Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Transitions and Ambivalence

This year I've been reading the history books of the Bible interspersed with the prophets who lived and prophesied at the same time. One of the things that leapt out this reading, especially in the context of the Northern Kingdom, were violent transitions. How grateful I am that our system of government allows for a smooth transition of power from one presidency to another! We are not a coup-friendly nation, and I am profoundly thankful for that.

Obama wasn't my candidate. McCain wasn't either, but he had my vote because his ideology and values are closer to my own and I believed he would do a better job of leading this nation. But now Barack Obama is my president (elect) and while there is disappointment and concern. I am also intensely moved by the significance of his election.

It struck me most profoundly when I heard a radio reporter mention watching Jesse Jackson weeping on television (as a TV-free zone I rely on radio for real-time descriptions of events). It's powerful for me that we have elected a self-identified black man to the highest office in the land - but I'm a middle-aged white woman who grew up in a racially diverse part of Los Angeles and the truth is, I have no idea what full-on racial prejudice feels like.

So hearing this reporter describe with a sense of awe that Jesse Jackson wept continually, wept like a young child, I realized how extraordinary this election is for the black community-- something they felt was out of their reach as a race has been grasped resoundingly, and not only by blacks but by all races. The Presidency is not a referendum on race but Obama's win required the support of myriads of white voters - and I hope that fact serves as a balm to the weary and torn souls who've been encouraged to view all of life through the lens of racism.

I pray that Obama will be a great and wise President; I pray that he is not a man of the Chicago machine but proves to be his own man and a man with a true heart for the Lord.

The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it
like a watercourse wherever He pleases.

Proverbs 21:1