"They were the souls of those whose bodies littered the bottom of the Atlantic,
whose families were torn asunder, whose names were erased.
They were those
who knew the terror of being set upon by men with clubs, of being trapped in a
torched house, of dangling at the end of a rough rope.
They were the souls of
those who knew the humiliation of another person’s spit trailing down their
faces, of being treated like children well into their twilight years, of being
derided and despised for the beauty God gave them."
I think it's a bit cheezy to talk about the past this way--but he's right. And it's funny to think, that people like me may have to shed twenty years of cynicism: twenty years of knowing that people are lying to you at worst, and exaggerating the truth at best. My parents berate me for it all the time, but they grew up with FDR, Lyndon Johnson and Kennedy. I had Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. And I was too young to know anything about Carter, who is a great man in his own right. So how could I know? How could I believe in anything other than hopeless fantasy?
It's hard to shed that. And I'm right not too, but at 9:38 this morning, it's hard not to dream that the world we liberals have fantasized about for a decade can come to pass. A world where Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Women, Men, Gay and Straight, all have equal rights before the law. A world where the rich take care of the poor, educate them and raise them up, so that they can in turn help their brothers to stand. A world that doesn't use and annhilate other peoples, where diplomacy and virtuous stands against tyranny aren't confused with wars of attrition and corruption. A world where people are free to believe in whatever form of spirituality to which they ascribe. A world where science, reason, intellectualism, and art, aren't scorned as elitests or feared as Utopian frauds. A world in which we are merely one of thousands of species inhabiting with guardianship the beautiful, beautiful Earth, and can help her recover some of her lost grandeur. A world where the sick can be cured regardless of caste, class or creed. A world where a lost generation of incarcerated criminals can be rehabilitated and reintroduced into a society that never gave them a chance.
I know it won't be easy, I know it probably won't happen. But the byword of his campaign has been hope. And what started as a small candle in a dark and breezy room, is for at least last night and today, a blazing fire. Another cheezy expression comes to mind, "It's always darkest before the dawn." So it goes. America faces the greatest challenges it has in thirty to fifty years. And it won't be easy. But you always start with one step, and as I choke up here right now, it all starts with the simple words, that an elegant Barack Hussein Obama gravely intoned last night to the crowd, "Yes, We Can."