Search The Web

Custom Search

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Even Children Can Mix Red and Blue Into Purple

As momentous as tonight's presidential election was, we all deserve a break. We have spent months supporting, donating, campaigning for our respective sides. We watched Sarah Palin get mocked on Saturday Night Live and we watched Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials and past connections get scrutinized. We drank to "Maverick" and "Joe the Plumber" as we openly referred to the president-elect as a "terrorist."

Tonight, we saw both candidates stress the importance of unity. We either felt optimistic about the future or declared our intent to move out of the country. While I applaud the landmark victory for our nation's first African American president, the record number of young voters who participated in the election and the overwhelming international support for America's next president, I am nevertheless ashamed at some of the reactions I saw as the results became more and more concrete. Some McCain supporters seemed to deflate before my eyes, while Obama supporters blatantly shouted their victory without knowing the political leanings of the recipient of their verbal onslaught.

A dear friend of mine pointed out that, in some respects, an election is similar to a sporting event--the winners will naturally be ecstatic, while the losers will resent any celebration. While this was to some extent an eye-opening observation for me, I cannot agree completely. An election is vastly more important that a football game, and the emotions involved run much higher.

In the midst of the celebrations and victory rallies it is easily forgotten that Mr. Obama will not take office till January. Some of us have "hoped for change," but a significant portion of us did not. While both McCain and Obama have pledged to work together, reconciling their supporters will take a great deal of work and careful maneuvering. An informal poll of Facebook status' and reactions from people on the street clearly show that many people are still rubbed raw by tonight's results.

Several of the upset victories in the electoral college leave me hopeful that with time, we can all stand united behind our new president. But hordes of fanboys parading the streets while the remnants of Mr. McCain's supporters recoil in fear and misguided anger is not the way to start.

As Mr. Obama said in his victory speech, "Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of red states and blue states (credit: MSNBC)." I hope this is true. At our cores, we all believe in a similar set of beliefs. We aren't red or blue. We are purple. We are American. The fifty stars and thirteen stripes of our flag are blind to the color of our respective states or the color of our president's skin.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Everything stops. Everything goes again.

What does it mean to empathize? To walk in someone's shoes?

Does it mean to share their grief? To have faced a similar situation?

To me, empathy means transcending typical boundaries such as race, friendship or personal beliefs to make one's hardship so completely your own that it is impossible to distinguish where one person's pain begins and another person's pain ends.

It means to unplug from your hectic and oh-so-important life to take a quiet moment for someone you may have not known personally, but whose life had a profound ripple affect on those around him, and those close to you.

Empathy is what holds a person's head high and shoulders back in the darkest hour. Empathy is compassion, compassion is love, and love is the steadfast bond that makes people greater than the sum of their chemical and biological parts.

The crack of a pistol shot made everything stop. The intangible power of human contact is what will make everything go again.