It’s the day after. The sun is shining on a lawn full of gold leaves waiting to be raked, piled and jumped in to. I can hear the hum of a neighbor’s lawnmower and the squawking of my dishwasher that is steps away from the scrap heap I’m afraid. On the surface it is all rather ordinary and peaceful.
Which is the very thing that amazes me this morning. It is an ordinary and peaceful day. In other parts of the world, transitions of power do not happen with such peace and celebration. The eyes of the world were on Chicago last night as President-elect Barack Obama and his family took the stage, and what the world saw was a sea of humanity. The screams and tears were of celebration and joy not horror and fear. The crowds were not fleeing or running for their lives. People stood their with feet firmly planted and eyes fixed on the stage or the jumbotrons. It was amazing.
It made me think about a recent purchase Peter and I made. We bought a Wii. (Shh. The kids don’t know, and we’re not even sure it was a wise thing to do.) So what does the Wii have to do with the elections? As we were paying for the stupid video game system, the sales associate was trying to sell us the buyer protection plan. He said it was like buying insurance that would cover repairs or replacement in case our kids accidentally dropped the Wii, spilled water on the Wii or did something stupid and broke the Wii. He started reading part of it to us, the part he thought was so funny, the part that said the plan would not cover damage caused by acts of God, civil war or looting. All three of us chuckled at what sounded so absurd. Seriously, if I were in the middle of a civil war I would not be all that concerned with a video game.
But that is what struck me last night and this morning. There are places in this world where civil war and looting are the norm. There are places in the city of Chicago and urban communities across the country where violence is the norm. Who is to say that those people do not long for a different normalcy, for peace, for a chance to laugh and be entertained? But isn’t it incredible that last night Americans voted in this country’s first biracial African-American man into the White House only 43 years after the Voting Rights Act became law turning the world around without turning the world around?
I realize that there are many who are disappointed, maybe even horrified at the outcome of the elections. This morning on the radio I heard a woman from Arizona who was obviously upset as she said firmly, “Barack Obama is not my president. He will never be my president.” I also realize that just because there is peace today that the threat of violence isn’t real. Just after the upset Arizona woman spoke, the news reports went to an arrest made in Chicago – a man headed to Grant Park with a trunk full of automatic weapons and ammunition. I doubt he was going to hunt for moose in Chicago.
But partisan politics aside, I am amazed. Aren’t you?