Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reneging Once Again on My Vow to Leave Politics Out of My Blog

In the past 24 hours I’ve seen many posts and comments online with the common thread, “I’m terrified for our country” because of one or another outcomes of yesterday’s election.

I’m bewildered. I feel many things about our country, about this latest election. Fear isn’t one of them.

Last night when I stepped into the classroom I was greeted with a chorus of voices asking if we could get out early. Several students were hoping to get to the polls before they closed; the rest wanted to watch election results. During the short forty minutes we held class laptops and cell phones were open and every few minutes someone would call out the latest updates from the polls.

I teach at a university that had the second-highest voter registration in the country. Only Berkeley beat us out. Far from being manipulated by a liberal media—an accusation I’ve heard leveled at this new generation of voters—these “voting virgins” are engaged, sophisticated, and thoughtful citizens. They think carefully about the issues facing our country. They listen to their parents. They look to history and ahead to the future. They are deeply concerned with the long-range ramifications of political process, for their children, our nation, and our world.

When I voted yesterday it was a quick and painless process. I didn’t have to travel long distances to exercise that privilege. I wasn’t afraid of violent reprisals against me or my family. There weren’t any soldiers with machine guns standing guard. What an incredible country!

We’re living in economic uncertainty and troubled times. Given our national lack of financial responsibility it’s quite likely to get worse before it gets better. We’ll survive. We’re living with increasingly polarized tensions over civil rights and religious liberties issues, and there don’t seem to be any easy answers. We’ll survive. We’re engaged in a global war on terrorism that is pointing out previously unimagined vulnerabilities in our national security. We’ll survive. In fact, we’ll thrive.

This isn’t a starry-eyed Pollyanna complex. Like most citizens, there are social and political issues facing our nation that concern and worry me. Yet I see so many more reasons to rejoice.

Who would have thought that less than a century after women won the right to vote, we’d be in the middle of an election year with an unprecedented number of strong female candidates, for nearly every office, including the vice-presidential ticket? It’s a far cry from the days when medical textbooks taught the ‘scientific fact’ that women’s brains were incapable of intellectual thought because they were smaller. And just forty years after desegregation, who could have imagined that we’d elect our first black president? I tucked my babies into bed last night with the realization that the world Martin Luther King dreamed was so much more a reality than I ever expected to see in my lifetime.

That’s what it’s all about, I believe. We live in a nation that constantly seeks to become better, to learn from the past, to learn from mistakes, to improve upon what we have. It might take a long time, it might be painful, but we never quit trying. We’ve survived Republican leadership; we’ve survived Democratic leadership. We’ve survived hostage crises, economic depressions, energy shortages, world wars, and 9/11. Heck, we’ve survived O.J.’s glove, Monica Lewinsky’s dress, and Paris Hilton’s videos—we’re not about to fall apart because of one election.

Our future is incredibly bright. I look at my students, my children, and I know we are in good hands. More importantly, I look to Him who notes the sparrow’s fall, and I know we are in good Hands. How can I feel anything other than hopeful?


XR4-IT said...

Well said. I like you see hope for our nation in the closing of this passed election. While many may have ideological differences with the president elect America is still America and our democratic process continues. No matter what ideology you fallow it is your right to engage yourself with the government, and make your thoughts and ideas known to those in public office.

We should remember that social and political movements for change are often started by relatively small groups of people, and yet this nation has often moved to accommodate those who are willing to act.

To those who have despaired from recent events take hart and go to work. It may be hard but you can make a difference in the world you live in.


Becky and Chris said...

I'm fighting right now to decry my current state of pessimism because of the results of yesterday's election. Your blog was nicely stated and it seems you have a very positive and hopeful view. Yes,I agree that it is nice that women and all races are getting the respect and long deserved acknowledgment of equality that is theirs as creations of God. But I get so sick of things being done for the sake of "change" alone. Their is an unacknowledged (pop. media)culture that seems to want to force nostalgia and create material for the next "true story" Disney movie. ...
o.k. I just deleted a big portion of my response because I'm getting moodier and moodier as I go. Sorry. Thanks for the burst of optimism. You know, thinking back on my high school days I remember having a govt. class taught by a lady who stated she was a democrat. Though I disagreed with her views, she, to her credit always presented both sides to issues and did not force her opinion on her students. I will always respect her and remember her for that. The opposite seems to be a big problem nowadays and differing points of view are quickly stamped on. I'll keep believing in the greatness of this country as long as my voice can be heard.
Thanks for letting me spew on your blog :) I've been escaping all things political today while reading Jane Eyre, one of my very favorite books ever.

Brett said...

I was listening to Glen Beck today...( I think I just broke one of your blog rules too) and I was astonished at the number of people that were calling in saying that they did not recognize Obama as their president. Even more surprising was Glen's response.."If you don't recognize Presidential Elect Obama as our new president then you are not an American!" I was glad to hear that response as I find people over reacting to the election results and making absurd comments. Obama is not going to turn us into a communist country or attempt to run the country into the ground. He wants us to succeed as a nation and even though I may not agree with his proposed methods, that doesn't make them wrong. Not only that but his proposed methods have not even gone into effect and we don't know if they will or what their effect will be if they do. I agree with you in that I think we need to relax(Valium anyone?) and realize that it takes more than just one person to fix our nations problems. I did not vote for Obama, but I support him and hope that he will help make this country a better place and get us moving in the right direction.

Rhonda said...

As said it like it is and you did it so eloquently. I love reading your perspective.

I guess I never did my tag...I've never been great at those.