The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Election Addendum November 10, 2012

Seems an ancient topic only three days after the event, but some thoughts linger in my mind which I’ll express here now, before life swiftly sweeps us into the future and these musings hardly warrant a read-though…

On election night I’d gone to bed shortly after Elihu. I know that the only time I have to myself is after he’s asleep – but I can never last that long to enjoy the window. And that particular night I had a heavy, waiting heart, so going to bed seemed the gentlest and best thing to do. However, I awoke with a start at 11:36 and realized that we’d probably chosen a new president by now, that the waiting was likely over – so I turned on the TV. It had already been on the comedy channel – and so it was through a characteristically heavy-handed bit by my beloved Mr. Colbert that I learned the breaking news. What a lovely way to awaken from my nap… I was relieved, quietly thrilled, and I was laughing. Thank you, Stephen.

While I might have gone directly back to bed to enjoy a sound sleep, I simply could not. I had to stick around and hear from the men themselves. So I did the dishes, I tidied the kitchen, arranged things for the next morning’s breakfast and packed lunches to pass the final hours. I heard Mitt speak first. And was I thrown – for the first time, I could hear the humanity in his voice. Relieved of the campaign, he was, I believe, finally able to represent himself as a person. As he thanked his family, friends and team members I heard genuine gratitude. I was riveted; who was this guy? First I’d seen of him! It wouldn’t have changed my vote – fundamental principals remained – yet it warmed my heart to see him let down a little. I actually liked him in that moment. He was behaving like a real person. ! At the risk of appearing a bit naive and sentimental here, I believe that when he thanked his family, he was speaking from a place of real love, and that is always transformative; it is inherently honest. So now he can go spend some quality time with his five sons and their families (it’s Mrs. R who’s the unsung hero here, I think). Good. Let’s move on.

The following day I heard a few passive-aggressive comments from people whom I took to be Romney supporters. Only long after the moments were gone did I think that maybe it might have been a more powerful choice to call out the elephant in the room – and maybe even have a short, civil chat about the beast. I understand that there’s some steam to be let off from the folks whose candidate lost, but do I need to pretend that I didn’t hear the almost, but not quite under-their-breath remarks on the subject? Am I supposed to – as I did several times – merely chuckle politely and just sort of ‘oh well’ it away? Won’t do so if another such situation arises, but I doubt that it will. It hardly seems there was an election. From a churning ocean to a still pond. Crazy.

Reiterating my sentiment from the previous post, I say again that as humans we all share a few basic goals in life, regardless of race, economic status or gender. I hope that this simple reality might one day bring a certain peace – and balance of representation – between all political parties (and I do mean all; the ballot shows us we have more options than an appetizer menu, but it’s still for all intents and purposes a two-party show). I’d hoped that in the meantime we could treat each other with respect and civility, but it doesn’t look likely. While it’s certainly human to feel anger and disappointment – the way in which you express that is governed by your personal self-control and sense of decency. So far, I’ve only seen rage expressed by Mitt fans. I’ve heard a lot about Obama signs being defaced or stolen (both through the media and in my own neighborhood) – but I have not once heard the same about a Romney sign. I’ve been mulling over this phenomenon, trying to get at the root of the reason, and I’ve arrived at this thought: I feel that this is symptomatic of a larger issue that seems to belong to the Republican mindset: fear. Anger may be the symptom, but fear is its first form. Fear and anger bear some nasty fruit. But where does this fear come from? It grows in an environment absent of love (as well as the tolerance that love engenders). Taking someone’s Obama sign off their front lawn is not an act born of love, ya know? You gotta be pretty angry to go and make that happen. Please understand that I by no means think that all Republicans are fear-based vandalizers – (some of my oldest and dearest friends are Republicans!) however I have never heard of equally hate-inspired acts attributed to Democrats.

To many it may seem simplistic, but I believe that the last vestiges of fear (control, hoard, distrust of others, keep to self, save self and those like me) are living under the wing of the Republican party. I also believe the party represents a mindset that will one day in the not-too-distant future become obsolete. This world cannot thrive and grow into a healthy future with fear-based groups controlling her populations. We see this changing in dramatic ways all over the globe, and while it’s perhaps not as overtly apparent here in the US, we too are morhping slowly into a new culture of love and understanding. Our interconnectedness, our diversity, our shared economically-challenged realities – and our brotherly love for each other as fellow citizens of one planet – these things have finally gotten their foothold in our modern world, and we have begun our journey up and out of the mess we’ve made.

 

O Hope November 5, 2012

While I’d like to avoid this cliche, I just can’t. The most frightening thing I saw on Halloween night was not merely the absence of Obama placards on people’s yards, but the number of Romney ones present. It never crossed my mind for a second – not until Halloween night – that anyone in their right mind would seriously consider voting for him. I liked to joke about it with my mother – there was no way anyone could possibly vote for the guy. No way! I laughed it off, it seemed so impossible. Yet here were all these signs… These were not the homes of the uber-wealthy; what, oh what sort of improved America did they expect under his direction? Did not the sane ‘everyman’ now have the pulpit?? Was not the ‘everyman’ of 2012 indeed a better educated, more enlightened citizen of the world than just a few years ago? To me it seemed nearly every time Mitt opened his mouth he was sealing his fate as the loser by a long shot; he was a handsome buffoon, a billionaire trying to pal up to the very working class folks whose labor he used to help build his empires. The same laborers Mitt would fire if it improved the numbers enjoyed by a privileged few. (He could do it in high spirits, too.) His feelings about women’s issues were archaic (stunningly so) and if nothing else, his very persona gave off the vibe of a slick salesman on the make for his quota, not a civil servant bound to represent his people and relieve them of their hardships. I realize that like every other human, he is fundamentally after the same things as we all are. And I’m sure he doesn’t think he’s a selfish or uncaring guy – quite the contrary, all those years as Bishop in his church couldn’t have been entirely without some real desire to help his fellow humans. But when it comes to removing choices, freedoms and much-needed services from people who don’t think or live as he does – that’s where I believe we’ve got something to be concerned about.

My life changed in 2008. It was the end of all things familiar in my life, and with the election of President Obama it was the symbolic beginning of all things new and possible. Finally, a man of spirit, intelligence and compassion with real, grass-roots ties to the people he represented. Emancipation. Finally. As it was with me too; my husband had come home one night in fall of 2007 and told me he had a girlfriend, she was having a baby, and he was leaving me. Right away. In a strange sort of daze I piloted through the process of culling my treasures, wrapping up my affairs and moving to a new home, very far away. It was in that winter of 2008 that I began to embrace my tiny new home in the country, to come to terms with my new-found poverty, to begin to understand that often some pretty big things have to change to make way for better things yet to come. I have come a long way these past four years. I’ve learned so much, accomplished things far out of my known world, and I’ve begun to create a forward path of my life, a trajectory of yet-to-be-fulfilled projects and goals which I’m certain wait for me just a few paces ahead into my future.

I remember that snowy night when Obama won the election; I stood on my porch facing the lighted sky above nearby Saratoga. At once I heard the great roar of a crowd, and as it ebbed, every now and then I could distinguish an individual shout rising above the rest…. The voices traveled over five miles of forest to find me there, standing alone in the night; moved, changed, almost unbelieving. I felt a surge of hope, a breath of elation. He made it, therefore we made it – and I would too. I just knew that we, as citizens of the planet, had finally stemmed the rising waters of greed and power. We had come into our new intention for the nation, the world. Finally. Finally. Obama’s victory injected hope into my new, unrecognizable life.

Hope is the word tonight, dear friends. Do we not all simply hope for better things yet to come? I don’t enjoy talking about politics with people because I believe as human beings we pretty much all want the same damn things, and really, politics is mostly about the game, and very little about the goal. And since I don’t care to lose friends, create unnecessary tension or to incite anger, I don’t often even open my mouth about it. I don’t believe that I am likely to change whom anyone will vote for. Those opinions run too deep. However, in this eleventh hour my hope is that, like in Horton Hears A Who, just one person here present who might otherwise have stayed home and avoided the whole mess, might find the spirit and resolve to vote, thereby winning the election for Mr. Obama by having raised that tiny, albeit mightily important final voice.

O, I hope.