Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ah, Wilderness!

It would be difficult to overstate the cultural, historical, pick-an-adjective importance of what happened on Tuesday night, though I'm sure that won't keep the blogosphere (and this blogger) from trying. That being said, the narrative legacy of this time in history is not going to be limited to the moonwalk/Berlin Wall/etc moment that was an African American man being elected President of the United States. What has me so excited is that it's going to be in the shifting of our national attitude that takes place in all the small, desperately-important decisions we make every single day. My friend Ruta came into my office yesterday with that same glow about her that everyone I've met since the election was called has had, and said "I want to go sign up to volunteer for something right now." I had the exact same feeling. One could say that I should have been thinking this before, and one would be right, but that aside, I was completely unprepared for the acute manifestation of everything that President Obama (I'm never going to get tired of typing that) has been talking about this entire campaign: that the management of our country is something best not left to the "professionals," it's something that belongs to us. And if I ever assumed that it wasn't, I, along with everyone else in this country, got my answer on Tuesday.

I'll admit, while I was confident enough in the power of President Obama's message and, honestly, in the certainty of the numbers (thanks, Nate at, there was a part of me that assumed that while Barack could win, he wouldn't be able to reach as many people as he did, to unite us as much as it seems like he has (or, has started to) from those poll numbers in so many counties across the country. And then there was the assumption that the concept of every person having the ability to make this country a better place is just a romantic ideal, and would be lost amidst the detrius of everyday life in this country - John Lennon's "other plans," in other words. And if these assumption are wrong, than how many other nihilistic assumptions we've all held about our potential as a people are wrong? I'm not usually one for exuberant optimism, but this is a kind of feeling that I've never had about America. It's the kind of feeling that makes someone want to become a better person, so that one can contribute to this brand new country of ours, and that can mean anything. It can mean volunteering as a tutor, or signing up for that writing class you always wanted to take, or it can simply mean sitting underneath a bough with a book you haven't read before, if only to open yourself up to new ideas. This is the feeling at the heart of the promotion of reading to kids across the country, and this makes me even more excited to be in the business of pubishing those books.

My friend Max just wrote an email saying "feeling this good about our president is going to take some getting used to." I know what he means. And I hope we never do.

1 comment:

Libby said...

BRAVO, and I couldn't agree more.