Of course, not being able to find my bra this morning made me cry, so do with that what you will.
(I found it.)
Anyway, Sarah has the floor:
“Peace in the struggle to find peace”
(With apologies to Sarah McLachlan for stealing her lyrics for the title of this note.)
Back in November of 2004, I was too busy finishing grad school and being angsty about the sale of my childhood home to write much about the politics of the day. But I do remember one thing about that time very clearly. I remember being angry, not at the election results, but at myself and at my fellow citizens who felt unrepresented by President Bush, and who worried for the future of the country.
I was angry at myself because I cast my vote for a man I did not feel strongly about, instead of standing by my principles.
I was angry at many of my peers for wallowing in disappointment and expressing their desire to flee our country due to the results of the election, to just "move to Canada." (Newsflash - Canada doesn't want us!)
Even in the darkest days of the Bush presidency, even on the day of that disappointing election - I have never NOT been proud to be an American, and I have never considered LEAVING this place. I disagree with my fellow citizens all the time. And I disagree with my government all the time too - the highest form of patriotism. It does not change the pride I feel for my nation, even with its many, many imperfections and shortcomings.
Tuesday's election leaves me relieved and inspired, and hopeful - but I was always hopeful. It also leaves me apprehensive. 46% of this country did not vote for President-elect Obama. That's still a LOT of people. And the bitter disappointment many of us felt in 2004, the rage and sadness at feeling unrepresented - those feelings are now theirs. I have even seen some of them talking about fleeing to Canada (who still doesn't want us!) I wish with all my heart that we can be kinder and more understanding of their views and beliefs than they ever were of ours.
This culture war rages on, and there is so much work to be done. I do not want to see my country torn asunder by people who cannot learn to live peaceably, to live and let live. I implore you, all of you who are celebrating this historic moment in our nation's history, to speak kindly, to check your pride at the door and to be humble, so that we can come back together as Americans and heal this divide in our nation. We may never agree on many things, but we should all strive to agree to live without hate. It is not enough for our representatives to reach across the aisle - we as citizens need to reach across the street, move beyond red and blue, accept each other as we are, and learn to live without judgment. We who are uplifted by the hope President-elect Obama brings to us, we must help to ease the fears of those who see things differently. We cannot do that through divisiveness or prideful words. Above all, we must speak kindly. All other things will follow eventually, if we can remember to be kind.
We can disagree with our leaders and still honor them as representatives of our country. We can take Tuesday night's words of both Senator McCain and President-elect Obama to heart, and move forward together as one nation.
These are not easy things. But this is the United States of America, and anything is possible here.