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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

{Images added 11/18/2008; was taken 11/5]


Euphoria, by its very nature, is short-lived. Still, I'd hoped to enjoy it for more than the first couple hours of the day. Awake early this morning, listening to results that hadn't been in after the McCain and Obama speeches we waited up to hear last night, I couldn't wait to dive into the day. And I wanted to celebrate, so I chose a coffee venue I expected to find congenial to my mood.

Things began well, then took a downturn when a disgruntled employee--disgrunted over the election results, not her job--arrived on the scene, long-faced and full of dire pronouncements. Well, it's hard to lose. I've been there, and I remember. I did tell her (and was backed up by her boss) that I thought she'd discover in time that everything is going to be okay. Enter a couple argumentative coffee-drinkers. Okay, argument is my home ground. (What do philosophers do? Ils se disputent.) But the desire to celebrate and the desire to argue do not go comfortably hand in hand. I retreated to a corner with the newspaper, still happy over the headline.

The atmosphere, however, from my perspective, deteriorated. Negativity, irrelevant at best (false claim that Obama is a "professed Muslim"--he isn't, but what if he were?), racist at worst (I won't repeat it), spilled out. "Thin ice," I commented to one speaker directly, but both felt perfectly comfortable continuing in the same vein, with or without the approval of anyone else in the room. At last, dawn's spell irrevocably broken, I left for Northport, disappointment sharp in my mouth. Doubtless I should have gone to the Bluebird in Leland last night. The only way to celebrate is with other celebrants. I thought that was what I would be doing this morning, but my forecast was off by several miles.

Other things have bothered me from time to time during the past year, but for the most part I've tried to keep this site positive in tone. So where is the positive in my experience of this morning? Maybe it was a dose of reality, whether I was in the mood for it or not. Those who are frightened will need time to realize that their well-being is not at risk with this new president. As Obama himself said in his victory speech last night, the road ahead won't be easy, and there will be false starts and setbacks along the way. Racism, conscious and unconscious, is still a reality, and it is only one of many divisions among Americans. President Obama is ready to reach across all divisions, and Senator McCain has pledged to do the same in support of President Obama. Both are role models for the rest of us. We need to remain optimistic, to be prepared to work hard, and we need to be kind to one another, even when we disagree.

I'm proud of my country today. I'm happy and hopeful. I'm also keenly aware of the challenges ahead.

10 comments:

Book Nerd said...

Hang in there, PJ! I did some phonebanking on Monday and had the same thought-I'd-be-more-elated response -- working in retail makes you more sensitive, not less, to negativity, I think. But there are others rejoicing with you around the world. Naysayers need their moment of injured pride, and provided we don't lapse into a socialist Islamic empire, we'll probably see better things. =) Listen to some speeches, read some other blogs, and let yourself enjoy the moment, even as we know it's going to be hard.

Neige said...

I've red the speeches of Obama and McCain today...America is a beautiful country.

P. J. Grath said...

See, I know you were being ironic when you said "socialist Islamic empire," because I have been reading your blog long enough to have a sense of you! How could he have made it any clearer that he intends to be a president for ALL AMERICANS? We are so fortunate to have this man to lead our country. Wordsworth longed for Milton ("Milton, thou shouldst be living in this hour! England hath need of thee..."), but the larger issue is for human beings of character to show the way. Obama is an inspiration to me, and when I get to my bookstore today I'll resort once again to THE HIDDEN POWER OF KINDNESS, a book that always has something to re-teach me. Thanks for your comment. It's a great day in any country when it can overcome past error and move forward into the sunshine. And yes, let's do it with joy, joy, joy!

P. J. Grath said...

Neige! Good to hear from you! Ce que tu as ecrit fait chanter mon coeur! Merci bien!

Susan Och said...

Some people are scared, because it's a scary world if you can't imagine what the next steps might look like. People's appetites for scary stories is highly variable. If you were tired of being scared, it's a great day.

Right now I'm reading W P Kinsella's Box Socials to Anna. It a story about a community in rural Alberta during the Depression, and it paints a picture (in a running back stich gossip style) of how community flourishes (or drives you nuts) when there's no money left. With everyone so fearful of another Depression, it's good to look fear in the eye and see what we're actually talking about.

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for the book tip, Susan. Yes, we all have different degrees of comfort when it comes to being scared. We're also not all scared by the same scenarios. I have pretty much lived my life on the economic edge, so that fear is not new to me. Threats to freedom in the last eight years I found very frightening. Fear itself is a reality, not necessarily a problem. It becomes problematic when people project their fears onto groups they see as different from themselves, creating scapegoats. I feel very, very good about the prospect of an administration that will not operate in that manner and foresee fear levels declining and people coming together to solve problems. Optimistic? Yes! Yes, we can!

Gerry said...

Yes we can! I've just made up my mind to be the joy I want to see. We can't let bigotry pass unremarked-but we can work hard to "remark" with love and respect. Easier said than done, but we're in for years of doing things that are easier to talk about than to actually get out there and work at. Good thing we're grownups.

P. J. Grath said...

Good thoughts, Gerry. We must be the joy, be the change--and also remember that while we are grownups, we've all got a lot to figure out and work through.

Betty C. said...

That is similar to how I feel, with the difference that ALL of my colleagues are on my side -- of course they are mainly French with a few Brits thrown in.

P. J. Grath said...

That's interesting, Betty, because when I was spending long periods of time in France, I found it easier to be an American there. In another country, one does not (at least, I didn't) face day-to-day political wrangling with one's countrymen. David and I had some odd experiences along these lines on a road trip to Monteal. We in the U.S. think of Canadians as peaceful people getting along pretty well, but plenty of Canadians, when they found out we were foreigners, expressed views about other Canadians that I found, frankly, quite shocking. Prejudices they would diplomatically hide from their fellow Canadians they felt perfectly comfortable expressing to foreigners. I guess all that goes to show is that people are people the world over, and sometimes we grate others more than we know. I'm still thrilled about this election, however, and if my joy grates on anyone, well--I've been there, too!