Last week, I joined millions of people viewing the history-making DNC. Rather than the confetti-fest that highlighted previous conventions with excited, sign-wielding delegates declaring their support for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, this one was virtual. To maintain safety protocols due to COVID-19, the planning committee determined that it was to roll it out via the marvels of modern technology. It didn’t disappoint this viewer who sat with rapt attention to the musical montages, the roll call of the various states’ delegates in their home locales, as well as the impassioned depth of the speeches from Michelle and Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton on the first few nights. Both of these political powerhouse couples have seen the White House from the inside out and know what it takes to steer the USS America.
I was enthralled with Jill Biden’s speech as she introduced the world to the man she has come to know and love, who embraces the family values that many in this country claim to espouse, on both ends of the political spectrum. Enduring unimaginable losses of his first wife Neilia and their daughter Amy, in a car accident moments from their Delaware home and his son Beau who survived the accident, only to die in 2015 of a brain tumor. Each was a pivotal event that shaped the man who has the skills and compassion to lead this country. With each speaker, including Brayden Harrington, the young man for whom Joe changed the life trajectory by encouraging him through their shared challenge of stuttering, I was more inspired.
I cheered as I heard the words of, in some cases, life long Republicans who have made the choice to vote their conscience since the person for whom they cast their vote in 2016 was abhorrent to them now.
Hearing Kamala Harris offering her tribute to the women who came before who made it possible for her to be at the podium then including her mother who raised her and her sister as a single parent, had me cheering since I too raised my son solo. She also touted the value of family, that into which we are born and that we choose. Her focus was on unity and not division and the ways that she and her running mate will bring us together.
On the final night, as Joe Biden took to the stage to accept the nomination, I felt my heart swelling with pride and hope for the first time in four years. He encouraged all who cared to hear, “We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion,” Biden said. “Or we can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light.”
Although I don’t recall name-calling of the current occupant of the Oval Office, the compare and contrast by each of the speakers were pointed and direct. It had me wondering how ANYONE, regardless of political affiliation could deny the necessity of making change.
The four crises that our new President (I am affirming it daily) implored us to face are
- the virus that is devastating the country (and the entire planet) and to date has taken 175,000 lives in the U.S.
- the economy that has cost more than 40 million jobs
- the racial injustice that exists for POC
- the devastating climate changes
My questions are these. How can anyone deny that these dilemmas exist? Do people not realize that we all breathe the same air and drink the same water? Have they forgotten that the virus is an equal opportunity killer? Can they continue to ‘go about business as usual’ as if it won’t affect them or someone they know and love? If they live in white skin, can they deny that privilege exists for them that is denied those of darker hue? If their livelihood is in jeopardy I would think that they would want a change…and quickly.
My paternal grandparents came to the U.S.A. after leaving Russia during the pogrom to flee persecution. My Bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) used to tell me that they were looking for streets paved with gold. My father would say that this was “the greatest country in the world,” where we had the freedom to speak out and make something of our lives. I imagine that my ancestors would be sadly or angrily shaking their heads, declaring that what was happening in our country at the hands of the current administration is a ‘shonda,’ which is Yiddish for shame.
As I listened to the people who I envision standing in front of cheering crowds, ideally in person on January 20, 2021, as they are sworn in as President and V.P., I felt soaring hope in my heart for what we as a nation can be. It was the same emotion I experienced both times Barack Obama and Joe Biden took those oaths of office. My grandson’s first birthday is the following day and this would be the icing on the cake as our family celebrates both blessings.
I know that this country is polarized. There is a difference between hate and love, fear and trust, good and bad. I will always be on the Light Side of the Force.
I live in an area of PA that is diverse in population. Despite the numerous prosocial rallies and vigils in my county, I have sadly driven past signs that encourage the re-election of those whose thoughts, words, actions, and policies have torn asunder a country whose aspirations have not fully come to fruition. #45 is all about ‘me’ and #46 is all about ‘we’. I want to stop by and knock on the door and ask them why, but I fear repercussions. I don’t want to demonize anyone for their beliefs. For me, it is not a case of ‘to each his or her own’. It is not about ‘my views vs. yours’. It is literally about the survival of the species.
Sadly, I unfriended a former teacher of mine whose posts are so vile and hateful that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. The most recent was that protestors who blocked traffic should be arrested or (not sure if she said it or someone else on her page did) should be run over. I am appalled at someone who was such a positive influence in my childhood could espouse the beliefs that she does. I wish I could call her on it. I have thought about it, but I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole with hearing her talk about respect for the country, the flag, veterans, and the police. The reality is, I do respect them all. It is possible to be a tree-hugging, progressive peacemonger and hold the beliefs that respect needs to be earned.
I asked friends what kind of country they want. Their responses were filled with reasonable requests.
“A country where every person has enough. Food, insurance, shelter, education.”
“One filled with peace, love, and acceptance.”
“I want us to be united again. When it gets down to it, we all want the same things: safety, good health, and access to good, affordable care, food and shelter, education that is affordable, opportunities for purposeful work, and living wages. We’re not that different. We need leadership that will bring us back together. Much less anger would be good for all of us.”
“Kind, compassionate, diverse, and inclusive. Teach all history..learn from mis-takes”
“I want an America that has an education system that teaches critical thinking skills in every level layer and aspect so people can see the difference between someone telling them what to think and someone who is telling them the information they need to know to decide what to think.”
“A kinder president like Steph Curry’s daughter said that will work with experts to truly fix America’s problems using the billionaires’ tax cuts from Trump as Mike Bloomberg shared.”
For me, it isn’t ‘my country, right or wrong.’ but rather in the words of Senator Carl Schurz that echo through the ages, “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”
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