Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fascinating

It's 1969. I am 5 years old, and my parents have taken me and my baby sister to rural Florida to visit my great-grandparents, who spent their winters there. They were from Nebraska, and were farmers. My great-grandfather, Noel Bacon, was born in the late 1880's, and came from a family that was so poor that they had to literally sell some of their children to other farmers in the area- and this was a common practice. Grandpa Noel had an accident when he was a little boy, and broke both his knees, and he walks with two canes. He's a tough old bird- this guy used to walk behind horses with a disc plow on his fields in the hot Nebraska summer sun to provide for his family- on canes!

Grandpa Noel and I are at a park, where I am playing on the playground- I don't remember if there were many kids there or not- but I'm thirsty, so I go to a drinking fountain to get a drink of water. There are two drinking fountains there, but one is much lower to the ground, so that is the one I use.

Without warning, a man walks around the corner and sees me, and begins yelling at me. I don't understand what he's saying, but he's very angry and he scares me and I run to my grandpa. My grandpa gets to his feet, and he begins yelling at the other man, and grandpa is very, very angry, calling the man "ignorant" and "stupid". I honestly think they're gonna fight, and I'm really scared. After a few minutes, the other man walks away, and grandpa says, "Come on, Marc. Let's go home." I'm happy to do it, too, because now there is a bunch of people standing around, staring at my grandpa and me, and they all seem very angry, and I don't know why. I'm just scared.

The reason that the man was angry was that I was drinking out of a "colored only" drinking fountain. Grandpa Noel's family were staunch Abolitionists during the Civil War, and grandpa made no secret of his disdain of segregationist practices. Grandpa Noel had older brothers in his "adopted" family that were killed in the Civil War, fighting for the Union because of this. (My sincerest apologies for my many southern friends here- you know who you are)

No, I didn't vote for Barack Obama. The reasons I didn't vote for him are myriad- I don't share his beliefs; I don't think he's qualified; I don't think the government's place is to be involved in the day-to-day individual's business; I like smaller government, etc., etc. I do think he's fairly genuine on many things- I truly believe that he cares about this country, and I don't see him as evil incarnate like many others do. I also think that since he's a politician, he's probably as scummy as the rest of them are, but that almost negates my point here: our society has progressed and evolved.

40 years ago, the great Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. That speech really had little to do with the cause of minority civil rights- it had more to do with civil rights as a whole, and I don't think Dr. King had even the slightest notion that what occurred last night would be the outcome- and, more than that, last night's outcome isn't even something that Dr. King wanted, specifically. What Dr. King's message in that speech was that as we are ALL brothers and sisters in Christ, we ALL have an equal part to play in the world. We ALL need to recognize that and move through it.

No. I didn't vote for Barack Obama. I'm not terribly happy with the choice this country has made for its leader. I think there's going to be lots of fallout - good and bad - from this decision. I'm a little worried about the all Democrat White House, House of Representatives and Senate (and I would be equally worried about an all Republican version of that, too), but this country has weathered this kind of thing before. But, aside from those things - things I don't know and cannot forsee - I am thrilled beyond measure that this country has put aside a gigantic chunk of our shared history and has opted to look at man to lead this great country, and looked at THE MAN, instead of the color. Honestly, that does more to negate my misgivings than anything else. The people have spoken and the process has been worked. I am anxious to see how this all plays out, and even though I didn't vote for Barack, he is my President, and I will support him to the best of my ability.

God Bless the United States of America.