The Sunday before Obama’s inauguration I was lying on my sofa, watching TV. Eventually the President-elect came out to give a speech. It was pretty short. Halfway through the speech, I noticed there was a tear in one of my eyes.
I am not a political person per se. I vote, but out of duty rather than passion. I’m skeptical, about almost every form of formal human organization.
But here’s the thing. As I have said, I come from a High WASP background. In fact, as is common amongst this social pod, I have an ancestor who was involved in the early days of America. Two, actually. One signed the Declaration of Independence. One helped to draft the Preamble to the Constitution. So maybe I ought to be wildly conservative and elitist in my thinking, given my history of privilege and the human tendency towards keeping what they got to themselves. As it turns out, not all High WASPs, contrary to popular opinion, are Republicans. I’m not. (And of course I think my way is better, but I am of course open to the idea that I am wrong.)
However, I am patriotic. And I felt as though the administration in charge over the last several years, and the conservative Republicans, had absconded with the rights to patriotism and it made me sad. How sad if 9/11 and the deaths of so many innocent people was the only time someone like me could fly a flag and be correctly understood.
So that day on my sofa I had a tear in my eye because I was moved. I love America. I love the idea of America. I feel as though the American value of, to quote Jimmy Cliff the Reggae Master, “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, is a good value. The idea that we are all created equal is an idea that leads to very good behavior. And, it makes me feel that the fact that we all have to die is a tiny bit less awful. If we as a species can really hold a value that leads to generosity and support and applause for all, then maybe there is some life beyond death for humanity.
And at the very least, electing a black man to be President of the United States means we mean what we say in America. That our enduring myth finds its way into real lives somehow.
But let the Reggae Master speak. Maybe I will rock a bandanna like Jimmy today.