You know what I really love about Barack Obama? No matter what has happened, no matter how ugly it's gotten, and it has gotten ugly, Obama has remained unflappable. He is true to himself and his goals and doesn't let the pettiness get to him, at least not pubicly.
I wish I was more like that. As the days before the election draw near I wonder, what will I do if Obama wins, and, more importantly, what will I do if Obama loses? Whoever wins, my reaction needs to be the same. If Obama inspires me to be bigger than myself, to reach out to connect with and help others, then that response will be even more important if Obama loses.
It has gotten so ugly, and even scary. I'm seeing so much fear and anger. The irony is, I believe Obama would be just as much the president of the people slandering him as he would be of me. But I don't get that feeling about McCain. Palin highlights the differences between the McCain and Obama followers, pitting us against each other. Obama doesn't do that. So I think I have to stop pitting myself against these people, too, and attempt, as Obama does, to reach out to them in love and acceptance.
I am tired of the division. I'm tired of the mistrust and the judgements.
At the end of Bill Clinton's recent interview on The Daily Show, Clinton said,
But let's get real here. The purpose of this election is to win. We need to do what gets votes. We already got all the people that love us on this side. We gotta get some others. We gotta love them, not expect them to love us.The anti-abortion, anti-gay Christian is not going to love us, even if we're not gay or getting abortions. We have to find a way to give our love to them.
To tell you the truth, I don't know how to do that. Maybe like the early Michael Moore I need to gather the local militia in my minivan and take them to the county fair. Maybe I should take a case of water to the anti-abortion protestors at the clinic with a note that says "Thank you for exercising your constitutional rights," or set up a table recruiting people to come to a foster parent orientation? Maybe I could learn a lesson from Ron Kovic, who was a customer at a restaurant I worked at in the 90s. He rolled among the tables in his wheelchair greeting people and shaking hands and made his way to me to introduce himself and shake my hand. Nothing was going on, there was no event. It's just who Ron Kovic is - a man with startling blue eyes who makes every effort to make those around him feel comfortable. Maybe I'll start telling the truth to, and sharing my vision with, my GOP-voting elders, the ones I already love so dearly. Maybe I'll start there.
The poking fun, the snarkiness, the sarcasm - that's not really meant to change our opponents - it's meant to convince us that we still exist. If I need Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert to survive the reality-denying violence of our political system, what do the tools of our opponents say about their need to survive? What would be my mental state if I needed Bill O'Reilly to ground me rather than Steven Colbert? We're all frightened and disenfranchised.
Power has both sides spinning their wheels, angry at each other rather than the system. I hate to paraphrase Dr. Phil, but since he probably stole this line anyway, "This situation needs a hero (or heroine)."
If Obama wins we need to spend the next 4-8 years convincing our opponents that Obama is their president, and we can't fuss and fret every time Obama acts like their president and not ours. I don't want a personal president any more than I want a personal savior. I want someone who will be president to all Americans and bring us together. If we end up with a president who won't do that, then we're going to have to do it ourselves.
Bill Hicks, another guardian of my sanity, wrote about a mushroom trip he took,
I laid in a field of green grass for four hours, going, "My God...I love everything." The heavens parted. God looked down and rained gifts of forgiveness... onto my being, healing me on every level, psychically, physically, emotionally. And I realized our true nature is spirit, not body, that we are eternal beings, and God's love is unconditional: 'n' there's nothing we can ever do to change that. It is only our illusion that we are separate from God, or that we are alone. In fact the reality is we are one with God and he loves us.Yeah, yeah, he's on drugs. Here's the important part.
Now, if that isn't a hazard to this country. Do you see my point? How are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons, you know what I mean? What's gonna happen to the arms industry when we realize we're all one? It's gonna fuck up the economy! The economy that's fake anyway! Which would be a real bummer, you know. You can see why the government's cracking down...on the idea of experiencing unconditional love.Why wouldn't the government want us to help each other? Because if we did, if we worked across our divisions, we would be the government and the people we elect would work for us.
Bill Hicks | Love All the People | Letters, Lyrics, Routines
It doesn't mean we can't have art or humor. But we need more. We need to stop fearing the "L" word: love. Bill Clinton uses it. Obama and Joe Biden use it. We need to get used to it and use it, too, and give it away. The love we give is not for them, it's for us.