Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Cause Greater...

This afternoon I tuned into CNN to see what was happening in the world on this Saturday afternoon. I heard only a very few minutes of a select group of hopeful Democrats. I had missed most of their comments. Next came a group of grumbling, grumpy Republicam pols, sure that a President Obama and a predominantly Democratic Congress would spend the country into oblivion with a welfare state. I was struck that their ideas centered wholly on what they could do to counteract any of his plans, so that they could regain seats in 2010 and the Presidency in 2012. No thought to the economy, the infrastructure, the war, jobs, or what might be best for the Country as a whole - just what would be best for the Republican prospects for reelection.

It is understandable that this contingent would be disheartened and disappointed by a loss such as they endured this past week. I remember what it was like when Gore and Kerry were defeated. However, not one word was said today indicating that they would take a look at what Obama proposes and see if it is good for the country and the people. He's not yet even been inaugurated and they talked only of how they could work together to prevent anything he proposed just because it might reflect good on the Democratic party. Working across party lines - what a concept! I wanted to phone in and suggest that they get some much needed rest, come out in a few weeks renewed with the spirit of a patriot interested in making a difference by serving a cause greater than their own self-interests. As President-Elect Obama has said repeatedly: The country needs you!

Ed reminded me the other day of an older comedian who said he felt these people's parents had said once too often over the years, "Now don't you get smart!" and they had taken it to heart.

A friend e-mailed me yesterday how elated she was at the election of an African American president: "What a night on Tuesday! I don’t care how anyone voted, they had to be moved by the historic moment that an African American was elected our President. As Whoopi Goldberg said on TV, “I have always loved America but now I feel I have finally put my suitcase down.” I can only imagine what it must feel like to our black population, knowing we have officially erased the color divide.

"It wasn’t long ago that I talked with my childhood friend, Florence. We both remembered when we were kids in South Pasadena and two African American boys came to our town swimming pool, the Plunge, to swim. They were kicked out by the lifeguards and our pool was closed for days in the middle of summer while the pool was drained and scrubbed to get rid of the pollution. Blacks were not allowed to live in our town. When one family bought a home, our city council asked them to leave and bought their house. "

I wrote her that Ed had told me about that swimming pool incident, too. His father had forbidden the family from using the segregated pool after that. He said that if the black children would not be allowed to swim in the pool neither would his children.

My friend wrote back: "His family was much more enlightened than mine. I remember being upset by the discrimination, but I happily swam in the pool anyway after it was “decontaminated.” I am so glad we have grown and changed as a country, although I feel very hurt at how hostile my Republican friends have been. One good friend said, “I won’t accept this election as being legitimate.” I have been skewered for my opinions, which I have tried to keep moderate. I thought of Abraham Lincoln’s comment, “A man is my friend as long as he is walking my way.” I have been realizing that some “friends” may no longer be friends. As one supposed Republican friend said during the elections to me, “I don’t want your communist ideas polluting my computer screen.” Gee, I never knew I was a communist. I thought I was a nice little old lady from South Pasadena. "

I know that I've undoubtedly sent some political commentary e-mails to friends - perhaps some offensive to our Republican friends. Can't blame a girl for trying to convert a few. Or can you? I've always subscribed to the notion that, s Obama said many times during the campaign, "We can disagree without being disagreeable." I was married for 25 years to a "devil's advocate", who loved to create discourse by taking a side of an argument that he knew would get a rise out of me. I learned to love a good discussion.

Alice Walker said in her Open Letter to Barack Obama, (see below)"We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise." Hopefully, our friendships are strong enough to override our political differences. Hopefully also, the losers in this election will realize and accept the idea that - just perhaps - a new day of cooperation, a fusion of the two parties, might create a few patriots, as opposed to politicians. My hope is that in order to create a more perfect union, President-Elect will nominate a few Republican patriots to his cabinet. It could make all the difference.


P. S. An Open Letter to President-Elect Obama from Alice Walker

"I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance."

"...I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion.We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise." - Alice Walker