It is still very surreal and I cannot bring myself to let go of certain fears just yet, but I hope that in time it happens as it deservedly should. It has been an amazing experience watching all of this unfold in real time, and the coincidences are not lost on me. The old mill next door burned to the ground a week ago; that imposing, seemingly impenetrable structure that one couldn't imagine being taken down by any conceivable force and yet there its remains sit on the riverbank across the way, a victim of itself. All it took was time and accelerant. What is left stands as a metaphor for an abrupt end to something big and destructive - and a lingering possibly for something even bigger to one day stand in its place.
We have been euphoric. We have been enjoying this renewed sense of hope and possibility for a better future because we believed in it and willed it into action. Tuesday evening was without question one of the most significant experiences of my entire life and I'm finding it staggering even now how enormous it really was. I sat in my home with one of my closest friends in the world watching the final results come in and being acutely aware of each one of my senses when the moment arrived signaling the certainty of our President-elect. Absent were recollections of happier tears shed, of joy being rediscovered and frustrations released, all cloaked in the brilliance of goodness and a return to a time when we finally believed once again that everything was going to be alright, my fellow countrymen had spoken in a defiant, resounding voice that would not be content to merely open new doors - these doors were kicked in, smashed to bits, and burned for kindling. Again, all it took was time and accelerant.
The initial shock and disbelief that it was actually happening was replaced with the soothing balm of reassurance by way of the numbers of people who were catalysts for this change occurring. My own county here in West Central Georgia, historically conservative, voted 70% in favor of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Even Fort Benning, a fundamental part of our lifeblood, went to a majority for Obama/Biden. How extraordinary every part of this was! Finding it difficult to keep any semblance of composure, I let all of this wash over me and let go of everything I have held back for months and years in torrents of frustrative tension now flowing like the river this home is perched above. I felt more alive than I have in ages, and it was a catharsis well earned.
But my heart was heavy and still burdened, and a lingering sadness was pressing upon me for something that would never be and I couldn't get my mind off of him. It was all so beguiling. Renea, knowing me better than most and having that magical ability to not only read my mind but also unintentionally speak my thoughts looked over to me and said aloud what was welling up in me. She said "I'd give anything if Harvey were alive to see this" and we both wept. It was shortly after this that the news of Prop 8 in California came in, as well as those in Arkansas, Florida, and Arizona - and we were momentarily bereft. It was a familiar feeling and for once we had the opportunity to put it down and replace it with our new President-elect facing the nation he was chosen to lead speaking to the world in one of the most precious, glorious moments of my life. I decided then not to waste my happiness as it has been so hard to earn earn. Mourn your losses because they are plenty - but celebrate your victories, because they are so few.
I've had a few days now to begin processing everything and take stock of what has transpired and what is left to be done. I have used this blog and others in an effort to spark dialog and create change, because I believe in the power of grassroots activism. There has never been a better time in history for this given the way in which the Obama campaign got its legs and honed its muscles on the shoulders of grassroots movements. I've thought long and hard about what is to be done now, where I go from here with my fighting nature and how to keep laboring to make things better. The battle I've helped fight for years now is finally over, but there are old ones that need footsoldiers and not enough are available.
I'm unnerved at the label placed on me and others like me that for some reason - any reason - we are second and third class citizens. That it is acceptable to ignore the separation of church and state while allowing an ignorant and antiquated religious bent to define what a 'real' family is or who should not have legal rights. I'm tired of being told I have to smile and play nice while sand is being kicked in my face, and I can no more be a spectator when my brothers and sisters are STILL being oppressed and discriminated against than I can capitulate to the insanity that tries to define who and what I am.
It is time for grassroots action. It is time to get your hands dirty and build something. It is time to finally be dissatisfied with being a second class citizen enough to stop being one and make change. It is time to stop fighting this fight for ME and start fighting it for WE. It is time to get engaged with each other and those who need to be held to account. It is time to declare as a nation that putting the fundamental rights of citizens of this country up for popular vote is illegal; it is un-American and it speaks to the same backward thinking that causes our children to harm themselves as they have no sense of self worth or self respect.
It is time we engayge_america.