Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope and Trust

This morning at work I walked into a conversation (literally at the water cooler) between two colleagues: a would-be, new mother of twins, and a "veteran" mother of 3. The more experienced woman was filling in her colleague on the (lousy) maternal leave policy we have as part of our outstanding state health plan: six weeks of un-paid time off, plus whatever extra days people can donate to her. We were quickly joined by our resident, ecclesiastical GOP mouthpiece---a man dangerously mis-informed and always quick to argue down anyone not of his party affiliation. I was filling up my water bottle, and mentioned that in Canada prospective parents may get up to one year half-paid leave (momentofchoice can amend my statement if necessary), and that there is even a possibility for "paternal leave," which gives the father ample time off to care for the baby.
"Yea, sure," opined our conservative, aggressive friend. "If you're willing to pay 68% of your salary in taxes."

To my delight, no one said anything. We just quietly walked away and left the poor sod standing there waiting for his cinnamon bun to finish heating in the microwave. I felt like printing out for him momentofchoice's brilliant column "All the Candidates Are Socialists, So What?" written here on Thursday, Oct. 30th, but then that would've taken up a minute or so of my time and my time is precious nowadays. And so we just left him there without saying a word. It was the right thing to do, believe me. We all know from unpleasant experience.

To-day was not a day to take up the same tired rhetoric with an ill-informed adversary. We've gone through particularly nasty political waters since this past summer, and last night's historic win was enough to speak volumes on behalf of most of us, and refute even more. To-day was a day for hope.

This morning, after hardly any sleep, I was processing what has transpired the last several months in this election, and reflecting on the puissant, cogent effect of hope in my life. Pontificating that, I was reminded of a powerful (but bittersweet) story in David Remnick's biography of Muhammad Ali, "King of the World." As an innocent, illiterate black man was about to be lynched by a white mob in the 40s, the victim looked out into the crowd's hate-filled eyes and--convinced that the current heavyweight champion of the world and saviour of the black community would magically pop out and save his life--he yelled out in exasperation: HELP ME JOE LOUIS!

It's a heartbreaking story; one of proportions so un-fathomable to me that I get shivers every time I think of it. So great and complete was the man's belief and hope in the power of Joe Louis, that in his last, desperate moments on earth he appealed to the champ to save his life.

Although this will sound macabre, out of line, and even disrespectful (none of it intended), I feel as powerless and desperate as the poor soul staring at his unjust death. I, too, feel like throwing up my hands in despair and screaming: HELP US BARACK OBAMA!

I realize it's an extreme comparison, but I have nothing left save bitterness and cynicism. I am a husband and a father and I shouldn't harbor such extreme emotions at such extreme levels. I am trusting this man to begin to re-open doors of opportunity, although not without my pledge of support and hard work. I realize I may be putting my only egg into one basket, but it is only because I feel I am at the end of the rope. I have nothing left.

Just hope.


JJisafool said...

My wife had one of those fruitless discussions with my mother-in-law today. Her mother has that far-right knack of dismissing and explaining away anything that doesn't mesh with her worldview, and then even had the gall to tell my wife "You've got to do your research."

I feel like having the White House and Congress means not having to have those conversations, and focusing on the potentially fruitful instead.

stefaddink said...

I've been hearing all kinds of nonsense today and have tried like crazy to not let it put a damper on how I feel.

It's hard though. I'm hearing some really ridiculous stuff.

It's difficult to not vent about it or get angry, but I'm trying to be the bigger person and just let it ride.

Deni said...

Being home on my own (unpaid) leave with the baby and not having really left the apartment except to go vote and visit the pediatrician, I'm kind of happy to have been able to avoid hearing any kind of negative crap. I've also avoided talking to my mother or brother.

I won't allow anyone to spoil this day for me.

Anonymous said...

My mind drew a blank today. With all the time spent in recent months staying on top of stories and fighting baseless attacks and with the excitement leading up to last night, I felt so exhausted today. While I know there's much to be done, I spent most of today wondering where to begin. It feels good knowing there are so many people on our side...that side being the one that wants to make things better for everyone. Like Obama had to during his campaign, we just have to forge ahead and stay focused on what needs to happen.

the beige one said...

During all of my years, I somehow managed to avoid hearing that Joe Louis story. Dear god, that's gonna stay with me.