The new American landscape
Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008 8:56 pm
By MARTHA R. CARR
American cynicism lost the battle last week as Barack Obama became the newly elected 44th president of the United States and a promise was finally fulfilled. Even in the boroughs of New York City where pessimism was cherished as a local export, optimism overcame ordinary citizens who were running outside in droves and greeting each other with shouts of, “We did it!”
The Bronx cheer, the old sputtering raspberry, was replaced with loud, shouts of unrestrained joy. All over America Tuesday night at 11:01 p.m. as the networks began to declare Obama the winner people spontaneously poured into the streets shouting for joy, including in the South Bronx right by that American symbol, Yankee Stadium.
The cheering and honking horns only grew louder until Obama appeared in Grant Park, Chicago before a crowd of 160,000 people to acknowledge what had just happened. Suddenly, the streets across the nation were quiet again as everyone rushed back indoors to watch on TV as American history expanded to include more of her citizens.
When Obama was done the streets filled once again while in the Bronx people danced up and down the Grand Concourse in a peaceful celebration openly weeping and singing, hugging and laughing long into the night. In Washington, D.C. residents streamed toward Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House filling the wide boulevard long after the lights inside the White House were turned out. Everyone wanted to see what the world looked like now and the only way to do that was to be among the crowds.
Change has arrived and it was visible on the faces of the human American landscape as everyone realized a new truth. We are no longer a nation that offers the possibility of the fulfillment of dreams; we are the nation that has delivered on that promise. Even better, the declaration did not come from one, isolated group but from a patchwork of every background that stretched across the map.
The power behind the idea of one body, one vote and how it can shape a nation was manifested in the action of everyone who turned out to vote. Not only in those who voted for Obama, but in those who chose to vote for McCain and peacefully acknowledged the loss of their candidate. Senator McCain gave an eloquent and gracious concession speech and showed other nations around the world another facet of democracy in action.
However, there are still large issues looming over us and it will take the creativity, minds and muscles of everyone to come up with new solutions for sustainable energy, to rebuild the economy and declare peace in ongoing world conflicts. We can each start from where we are on a local level and let the effort expand outward.
It’s the time to take all of the new enthusiasm and vo lunteer in a local charity or ask how to be of service in the local government.
Our new day has arrived America and we are on the path to building something better for all of us. Voting was only the beginning, though as the real work gets underway. And now that the election is over, we become one nation, motivated to look for ways we can all compromise and collaborate together.
We started as a country made up of a shared ideal and have grown to include new citizens every year. Now we have begun a new chapter in our story. During the 1960’s when so many idealistic leaders such as Robert Kennedy or Martin Luther King were slain, a generation lost some of their confidence that things could be different. But, a new age has begun and our optimism has been restored. Send up a cheer and then go lend a hand.
Martha Randolph Carr’s latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you’d like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Martha’s Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.