I have felt so ecstatically happy since Election Day that I look back at the column I wrote the week before and can’t believe how sorrowful it seems. In fact so very different in tone it is from the way I have been feeling for these last two weeks I couldn’t bring myself to post it here at the top where it says ‘This Week’s Column’ so let me copy it below where it will live forever as a post and not disappear and be replaced as the column is each week. It’s not that much fun but it had God in it and also my wonderful old friend and fellow blogger Milton. Here it is:
I once bumped into an acquaintance who asked me what college my daughter was hoping to attend the following year and so I told her. “Oh, I would never my daughter go there!” she exclaimed with delicate horror. “It’s full of lesbians!”
It’s funny but I felt a wave of kindness toward her and so went and put my hand on her arm: “You must know that isn’t true, Sarah.” (I will call her Sarah.) And even if there are lesbians here and there in colleges, they’re our daughters first aren’t they? Our own young people?”
I was calm in those days.
I was less calm last week after my conversation with the Postal clerk I will call John. I was sending something to one of our honorary sons, a young man we have long loved and a brand-new homeowner. I asked him if the letter would get there fast; I was worried because it held important documents.
He read aloud the name of the city and shook his head. “Tough area,” he said unsmilingly.
“What do you mean?”
“Full of minorities” he answered with lowered voice.
“HE’S A MINORITY HIMSELF JOHN,” I said with a voice not at all lowered. I embarrassed him – made an awkward moment – but for the first time in my life as a careful and courteous female I didn’t care.
And so a silence hung between us until our transaction was complete and I had thanked him and turned away.
But ever since I’ve been wondering: What is wrong with us all? An hour earlier, in another place of business, a man passing the time of day there said to the shop owner and me, “Barack Obama was handed through college, same as that WIFE!” For some reason tears sprang to my eyes and maybe the shop-owner saw them because self-proclaimed McCain man though he is, he led me aside, and put a hand on my shoulder.
“Don’t listen to him; he’s not himself today” he murmured, thus showing kindness to us both.
And later he told me that he too is troubled by the high feeling we have seen in this political season now just ended.
I think of something I just read by Milton Brasher Cunningham, songwriter, ordained minister, student of history and professional chef. He writes a blog called Don’t Eat Alone where he cites the Biblical verse “Be Ye Kind One to Another” as the idea he most needs to keep in mind.
“I would love to say I have mastered the art of kindness and moved on, but it is not so,” he writes.
His favorite station was having its fundraiser one day and so he turned the dial to hear something other than the appeals for money and landed on the local talk radio station. “I felt as though I had crossed into a parallel universe. That they presented a view farther to the right of NPR for me was not a surprise; the level of volume and vitriol was, however. These are guys who command huge audiences across the country, or at least that’s my perception. How can anger that severe be so popular?”
That is his question. Mine is, What can we do about this?
Milton says we can remember this: that “regardless of our political preferences, our fundamental allegiances are to God and to one another. “Not to country. Not to party. Not to ideology…. Not to class or race or even religion. “To God,” he repeats “and to one another.” And that’s a truth I mean to remember from this day forward.