Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Defining Moment

Yesterday afternoon I walked to Whole Foods to pick up a cake, and as I walked through the Financial District in New York everything around me seemed heavy and still, as though the world was on the verge of cracking wide open. Every minute of the day felt somehow momentous, because every minute brought us closer to the moment when everything might change. It sounds so dramatic, and as I was walking to Whole Foods I remember thinking to myself that I needed to calm down, but even as I was talking myself down, I came to a realization: its true that it still remains to be seen how this election will impact the world and our futures, but regardless, this election was, for people my age, the first truly momentous occasion we have ever experienced. Eight years ago, when Bush first came into office, I was in high school. When Bill Clinton was first elected, I was seven. For people around my age, the current dark ages are really all we can remember, and as such my view of the world has largely been shaped by a sense that participation in the political process is meaningless and an ever-diminishing tolerance for patriotism in the face of the United States’ growing list of atrocities and aggressions. The mere thought that a black man could be president, that an intelligent and articulate man could be president, that someone I actually admire could be president, is a new concept to me. The thought that other countries might be inspired by anything America does is something I didn’t expect to see, and the images of people around the world rejoicing in Obama's success have made me feel, to quote Michelle Obama, proud of my country for the first time. The fact is that with the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, we might not know what’s to come, but suddenly I find myself asked to open my mind to the possibility that it could be something GOOD. The fact that Obama could not only get elected, but could win in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and VIRGINIA means that fundamentally, my cynicism when it comes to the intelligence and goodness of people in general may just be wrong. This is the first moment since I first heard a friend say “people are a constant disappointment” that I’ve felt that statement might not be true. And that’s a big fucking deal.

At the same time, I think I’m essentially still in shock. I expected to cry when I saw Barack and Michelle stride into Grant Park as the new president and first lady-elect, but the image so violently clashed with the understanding in my mind that this is not what America looks like, that I don’t think I was even able to fully process the moment. The fact that the new face of America is not white, that the family in the white house will be black, is I think symbolically even more important than we can imagine.

Hm. This is getting quite rambly, no? My final thought is just this: this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever seen so many people celebrate ANYTHING in this country. I stood in Union Square last night and watched a bunch of hipster youth attempting to spread a chant of “U.S.A! U.S.A!” through the massive crowd that had gathered to celebrate, and thought it was probably the first time many of them had ever used that chant, certainly the first time I’d ever enjoyed hearing it, and even if we were experiencing the moment in incredibly different ways and for different reasons, which I expect we were, and even if the coming years prove to be no better or no different, that moment was significant.

1 comment:

2legcaco said...

Ariztical Entertainment/Horror of the Wind
The President of the United States, a religious fanatic, catches wind of a secret formula that suppresses sexual desire and is determined to use it to win the “War on Sex.” He manages to steal the formula from the creators before they finish testing it, and no one is prepared for what happens next.

The President orders airplanes on a secret mission to cover the globe, spraying the secret formula in every nook and cranny covering entire hemispheres. But the plan backfires when the formula doesn’t work as promised – instead of suppressing sexual desire, it actually reverses it! The straights become gay, the gays become straight, and everyone’s lives are surprisingly turned sexually upside down.

Unexpected love flourishes, sexual desires rise to the surface, and when an antidote is finally found, you’d think everyone would be firs