The majority of people woke up this morning very happy that Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States in this historic election. Apparently a lesser number of folks woke up very sad and even pessimistic about what our future holds because he had been elected.
I can tell you this is not the first election in our history that has happened. I read a comment from a friend today who said he thought the world had ended when Goldwater lost in 1964.
For the record, I voted for John McCain. It serves no purpose at this point to share the reasons I voted for McCain but I am an educated, informed, reasonable and free American. And I have the right to vote for the candidate of my choice.
I will however unequivocally say that I did not make my choice based on the color of someone’s skin.
I will also say, in spite of differences of opinions and beliefs, I have a God mandated responsibility to wholeheartedly support the newly elected President of our great country and honor the position he will soon hold.
And that is exactly what I intend to do.
I am not a pessimist. I never have been and never will be. My hope and sincere prayer is that President Barack Obama will be the best President this nation has ever known and that God would grant him the wisdom to lead this country through and to the other side of the perils she faces.
With that said, I received an article tonight that was written by Andy Marlatt. Andy is a long time friend from Connecticut and is a real writer. He apparently had been participating in a long running thread of emails with friends about, among other things, this election. His group was lamenting that the election was now over and it was time to change the heading on what they had been discussing and move on to a new topic. They asked Andy to give the Benediction on their current thread.
This is unedited and posted here absolutely without Andy’s permission. But in the spirit of unity and OPTIMISM, I will get forgiveness from him later and give it to you anyway:
Barack Obama gave an important speech on Tuesday night. By now, the people -- on either side -- would have expected no less. He talked about what unites us, and what divides us; what makes us fear, and what makes us hope. He told us how we can continue to move forward, and how we had, "on this day", taken those first important steps. But it wasn't the stirring rhetoric of "Yes We Can" or “Yes We Did” that made me realize something momentous had happened. It was instead a line from the unlikeliest of places, buried in his list of campaign thank yous, a message to his daughters.
"Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine,” he said, “and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House."
Funny, isn't it? With all this election represents, with all we as a nation have overcome, with all the challenges we face, that's what did it for me. It was the uncomplicated, everyday innocence of children coming to the White House. With their new puppy.
Part of the reason this caught my ear was no doubt because of the last few words, "...coming with us to the White House." Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, seven years after 9/11, nearly 150 years after the abolition of slavery, a black man named Barack Hussein Obama really was moving into the White House. It was no longer abstract. Or impossible.
But it was the sentence’s simpler meaning that got to me. A new family was moving into the White House. A young family. A family with two little children.
The White House is a symbol of power and resolve and hope and yes sometimes intimidation and fear. America itself can be all those things. But the White House, like America, is also a home. It is a place for children; children who remind us why we are here and what we have that is truly worth fighting for. And most importantly, children who look us in the eye and force us, repeatedly, innocently, and sometimes annoyingly, to answer a simple question: "Why?"
We have missed that these last few years. We have missed the innocence, trust, enthusiasm, and unbridled hope that children have in such great store. Individually, yes, these characteristics may appear weak, but when combined they give us our most endearing, and enduring, trait: optimism.
For all our infighting and back-biting and overbearing moralism, we are, at heart, a nation of optimists. We think we can. We know we can. Sometimes we don’t even know why we can. We just do. Well right now, we need that optimism. The world is a dangerous and complicated place, and as adults it is our responsibility to face those dangers, to unravel those complexities, as best we can. It is easy -- far too easy -- to allow the world to scar us, to taint us, to strip away our trust and optimism and hope and replace it with obstinacy, rigidity, and the insecurity of certitude.
I don’t know that this will change, but I do know there will be children again in the White House; children who will expect their parents, and all of us, to look after them, keep them safe, give them the opportunities to live a good life; children who will want us, and should expect us, to do no less for them than they will do for their new, young and furry charge.
I’m an American. I’m an optimist. I expect the people in charge, this time, to succeed. I expect them to because they will have, right in front of them, the youthful, trusting, smiling and ever-present reminder of “Why?” Why it matters. Why we should try. Why whatever we do is worth the effort.
There will be children again in the White House. And some new stains on the oval office rug. And it’s wonderful.
See you in four years.