20 January 2009

WOW! What an emotional rollercoaster!

Today, as I sat quietly, soundless in the midst of a group of students I never thought was capable of such silence, I watched as the new President took his oaths. There was an amazing stillness about those minutes, a breathless quality, as if the whole world, in that moment, just stopped.

I've been substitute teaching at my former high school in place of a friend and former teacher who is out on maternity leave for a while now, and though the music rooms are very much separated from the rest of the school, there's always this vague sense of hustle and bustle about the school, even when the room is empty. Usually, you know that outside the small cluster of classrooms there are over a thousand students running around, doodling in class, slamming lockers, maybe even (gasp!) learning a bunch of things. You can just sense the activity, even if none of it is happening anywhere near you. But today… Today was different. When we stopped our class activities and all settled in to watch the Inauguration Ceremonies, that vague sense of activity just… evaporated. You could just feel not only the whole school, but what felt like the whole nation no matter who they supported in the election, watching along with us, just as silent and intent on what was happening down in Washington. It felt almost as if the world was holding its breath, and on more than one occasion, I caught myself holding my own.

I must admit, that I'm still a bit in disbelief. I've been glued to the news all night, just to remind myself that, "Yes, this is real." "This really did happen." It feels so odd to feel optimistic about our country again, and all night I've been swinging from total awe to almost giddy over this new feeling.

However, at the same time, I can't help but remember all the hatred and ill-will that reared its ugly head over the course of the last few months of the campaign. Much as my faith in the future of this country is restoring itself, I do feel like the process of getting to this point has eroded my faith in humanity. All I have to do is remember the names I have been called, merely for walking down the street (silently, minding my own business, might I add) with an "OBAMA '08" tee-shirt on, the names sometimes coming out of the mouths of people I thought knew better than to believe such things. "Baby killer" (as if my hobby is slaughtering infants over the weekend…). "Socialist." "Muslim" (to which I replied, "Yea, and so what if I am? Last time I checked, that's not a crime"). "Reverse-racist" (WTF?). My personal favorite thing I had shouted at me, winning my ignorance award was, "Go home you dirty liberal! It's not my fault you're poor!" I even had one kind old lady accuse me of having 6 abortions on my own, that I almost certainly didn't remember because I was probably too drunk, being the terrible liberal elitist college student that I am (and that's just about a direct quote, AND she definitely wasn't joking). All that hatred, over a tee-shirt. There's something very wrong with that. All the assumptions, all the lies that people were so eager to latch on to without doing any research of their own at all… It worries me.

Now, I'm certainly not one of those people who thinks that my P.O.V. is the only right one. I have always been aware, and frankly GLAD, that people have differing opinions. I love hearing other people's views, and, unlike many, I do listen. Sometimes hearing some one's differing opinion helps shape and change my own. I LOVE discourse. I like to think I have a fairly open mind, and I have many many friends who are very conservative for their own reasons, and I'm totally cool with that. On the things we know we're never going to agree on, we agree to disagree, and on the things that are up for debate, we do just that. It's a mutual learning environment. But when people are so quick to jump to rancor, with no logic or facts to back up their arguments when challenged, and nothing but a tee-shirt as the catalyst… that simply worries me.

So I guess, in a rather rambling and 'round about way, what I'm trying to do here is wish President Obama luck. He's got my support, and I hope, in time, that his actions will lead the rest of the country to understand why. He's certainly got his work cut out for him. I know I'll be saying a little prayer for him tonight, and I hope that, even those who didn't support him and don't necessarily think he's the best for the job, will do the same.

In more uplifting news, I have gotten some crafting done, so you'll see that soon. In fact, as soon as my cold goes away enough for me to rig up my little make shift photo shoots.

Oh, and also, for about two hours, there was much fun had in our house over what CNN had at the bottom of their screen. Enough ball jokes to last us for years to come, I would think.



~ Phyllis ~ said...

Wasn't it exciting watching the events of the day?
How horrible the things people said to you simply for wearing a tee shirt. Such hatred. I've never understood how someone could have such evil hatred in there souls.

zcrescendo said...

Not to take different approach, but I hope the lighter moments - the mixed-up oath that neither Roberts nor Obama ever quite got right, Dick Cheney doing his best impression of Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life", etc. - signal the coming of a time when Democrats and Republicans (especially their leaders) recognize their own faults and become too busy laughing with each other to sneer at others who disagree with them. As you say, we've had more than enough of the mindless sneering part.

Megan said...

Wow. I'm still hearing it at work. I begged my friend here not to tell anyone that I went to D.C. for the inauguration because I didn't want to hear the assasination comments and the terrorist comments. It's a very conservative and intolerant environment here. My parents are also very conservative and in the last few months of the campaign, from what I was hearing/seeing I was having a hard time not equating conservative with intolerant.
Now when I overhear the comments at work, I just take a deep breath and remind myself who won. I don't engage with anyone about it anymore. I'll save my breath for four years from now- but hopefully it won't be necessary.