Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hope

While reading the news today, I came across this piece online - I found the little poem at the end to be particularly moving and it made me reflect a little on what just happened back home.

It feels really great to have helped make history. And I think people my age forget how bad things were not so long ago.

I was reminded the other day that the landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia (which is a staple of constitutional law classes) came down in 1967. Obama was something like 6 years old at the time.

In Loving v. Virginia, the lower courts had found that a white woman married to a black man in Virginia was violating the law against interracial marriage. The Supreme Court finally overturned it, finding the interracial marriage law to be unconstitutional, but not before the couple in question went through hell to be together.

In 1967, my parents were both in their early 20s.

The lesson to be learned is that change can only happen on a generational level, and that it can only happen through laws that force long-held prejudices to end. The civil rights movement was the most powerful force for equality that this country ever saw, and it's amazing that it only took a generation to create a body of youth for whom race really doesn't matter.

If this could be done in the US, a nation that not so long ago had slavery, it can be done elsewhere. And the solution is integration of education. Take the Roma in hungary for instance - Hungarians have to be legally forced to share classrooms with Roma children without recourse to newly formed de facto segregated private schools. And in a generation, maybe the Roma won't be second class citizens anymore.

That is the hope that America was meant to bring to the world. That's what makes other countries look up to us. Because really, nothing is ever impossible, and we just showed the world. Not just with an electoral victory, but with people taking to the streets all across the country, celebrating a victory that they were personally invested in, and that meant the promise of change, in all of its guises.

The exuberance shown, from Pennsylvania Avenue, to the streets of Ann Arbor, to the neighborhoods of cities across America tells us something else. Maybe this generation didn't protest like was done in the 1960s. Maybe no one confronted police, yelled to be heard and marched in the streets. But maybe this generation was right. By using the democratic process to effect change, the American people showed the world that yes, we are still a great force for good, for change, and for democracy. Our system isn't quite as broken as was feared. And on Tuesday night we proved it. Without violence and without protests. Even in Chicago.

1 Comments:

Blogger Gentian said...

It was really remarkable that change actually happened through a democratic process. A big part of it is the Generations XY and Y that were so active in creating this change. This opens the door to less discrimination in America. Particularly, I liked Obama's victory speech when he said:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never... Read More seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America."

His presidency gives hope that nobody will be seen as a second class citizen anymore. That America is becoming a country where the separation of church and state is possible. That gradually there will be no more raping the civil rights of minorities. That gradually everybody will understand that the social fight is not a fight where the fittest survives, but a fight for co-existence where people are not treated differently depending whether you are in California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mississippi, Florida, Arizona.

And a fight to eradicate vengeance, racial and sexual segregation.

5:46 PM  

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