I am just old enough to have a personal memory of watching the 'I have a dream' speech being on the news. I remember my father (bless his heart) and his knee-jerk racist reaction to all those 'colored people' in the same place and how 'dangerous' that could be - this country better wise up! Was his reaction and thinking to myself (but being quiet - I was a little girl), that his reaction was not the reaction I was being guided to have by the good sisters at Christ the King Catholic School in Pleasant Hill, California.
I am just old enough to remember the Watts Riots, the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the problems in the streets as the Love Child movement caved in under the lies of drugs and 'free' love.
I am just old enough to remember the year of assassinations and thinking to myself, "What is happening here?".
I do not agree with a lot of what Mr Obama proposes and I pray for his conversion on many issues. However, I cannot for the life of me shake the feeling that what I am getting to witness right now is a watershed moment in our nation's history. It does not mean all problems of race and poverty and economics and war will be solved any more than the election of JFK solved all the bigotry against Catholics in this country. But I have such hope in my heart that we are, at our best, a country that does its best to judge someone on the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin or the religion they practice or the person they sleep with or the sins they commit in their daily life.
I have such hope that, deep down in the soul that is America, we are a people that are good and kind and want what is best for each other and for the common good. We fight and scratch and hate, but if the time calls for unity and sacrifice we are first in line to give what we can to make the right thing happen.
The character that is American is one that, ultimately, distrusts all government. We were born of that distrust, that feeling of 'don't tell me what I can do in my own house, you bum' and that is why so many of us can say without a blink of an eye that we love our country, we would die for our country, we would sacrifice all for our country but that we do not trust the government as far as we can throw it. That is our nature, I believe, as Americans.
We get nervous about people watching us and the idea that brutality is sometimes necessary to protect us from 'the bad guys' because we are, at our foundation, a nation built on values that proclaim, "that is a last resort, not a first resort. It is an anomaly, not a policy. We do not believe that the end justifies the means - because we believe in a Power of the Universe that tells us to do the next right thing when no one is looking, and when EVERYONE is looking and telling us we are foolish to demand the same behavior from those around us".
Through our history we have gained in stature and grown in behavior - from the idea that the only good Indian is a dead Indian to the belief that you cannot tell someone they cannot have a job just because they of the color of their skin or the religion they practice (Irish Catholics need not apply - anyone remember those signs? I do...and I am a YOUNG baby boomer), Americans are people willing to examine their beliefs and behaviors and still reserve the right to set their own boundaries....this I will accept as good, this I will accept as OK or none of my business, this I will accept as wrong.
I have great hope for my country.
On a brighter and less heavy note - I went to buy a combination VCR/DVD player yesterday at Circuit City. They were out - which is good, because all sales are final. I went to Target and bought one for 80 dollars. I got home, read the instructions and realized that somehow (probably me) had connected a cord incorrectly on my OLD DVD player and I reconnected it.....and now it works fine. SO, I am returning the new one to Target today. My motto is "If it still works or can be fixed it does not need to be replaced, no matter how groovy the new one looks".
This is going to be tough for me because I am a gadget girl. If I had too much money, I would be one of those people who have the first edition of everything that beeps, whirls and/or flashes colored lights while promising to change your life. I would have robots, special door bells, computer set ups that could help guide the space shuttle in for a landing and a stereo system that would make it seem as though Mick and the boys are in my living room proclaiming that the devil needs only sympathy....so, I have learned to make fun of myself in this area and say "OH I NEED ONE OF THOSE RIGHT NOW" every time something new and hip comes onto the market.
Pray for me.....