Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Experience I will Remember Forever


Tonight is a moment I will remember forever.

The moment that CNN predicted a victory for Barack Obama was a powerful instant in time. A room that was filled with students, half black and half white, shouted with a single voice as a clear majority was announced for the man I had supported since the Iowa caucus in January 2008.

I ran outside a few moments later, along with the rest of the crowd. It was a calm Boston night - cool, but not cool enough to discourage the people who had voted for the next president from leaving their homes and from announcing their victory to world. The cheering of that crowd held, and always will hold, a great feeling of satisfaction for me.

I withdrew to watch McCain's concession speech, which, being the first I had heard in my adult life, reminded me that there is such a thing as magnanimity in American politics. Say what you will about the man - McCain was a person who suffered for a cause he believed in, and at the close of his greatest political effort urged his followers to follow behind his opponent - an act, I believe, that reveals this nation is not as divided as we would sometimes believe.

History, friends, belongs not only to the distant past.

I typically am very hesitant to be caught up in adulation for any given cause or person. My education has been enough to convince me that eloquent and yet misguided people have ridden a wave of political enthusiasm to win the conscience of a people who would have been better served otherwise. But tonight, as I left the celebration of my peers to join the celebration of the streets, I felt like a moment had occurred, an achievement had been earned, a victory had been won for which I could earnestly and unabashedly be proud to have participant.

The walk towards my train home lasted twenty minutes. Whenever during that time I came across any person I let out a whoop! and held out my hand. Not once - not once - was the gesture not met with equal enthusiasm and an equally broad grin. Not once, whether the hand was extended to a white man, to a black woman, or to the passengers of a nearby cab - not once was the smile and whoop! not returned. I enjoyed tonight a sensation that I rarely feel, the unabashed joy of being part of a righteous collective, all laughing through the streets on a wonderful journey home.

I could hear the city cheer.

At the moment, folks, I don't care about the fact that I live in an oasis. I don't care that my home is one of the few places in the country where someone of my religious, political, and moral mindset can live in peace. Despite all this, I know in my heart that Barack Obama will be a powerful force of good for this country. The president-elect will represent an America that is proud to be a member of an international community, champion the defense of human rights, and aggressively seek to save the world from a climate crisis that threatens to doom us all.

"Change" and "Hope" are not empty, abstract words tonight - not to me. Now, more than ever, I am proud to be a United States citizen. I believe that tonight my country is one step closer to being part of a united and just world.



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