This morning, weak and wobbly from a stomach virus (and, I believe, even more from the election), I sat down at my desk and thought, Today of all days, I must write… surely there is a poem at the tip of my fingers, just waiting to be released.
But nothing comes.
I sit here… smiling… looking at a photograph of President (pfffffffft @ “Elect”) — PRESIDENT Barack Obama — and my mind is… not empty — no — it is full – so full — full of something so foreign I can barely recognize it — Hope.
And I keep going back to this story.
I’m honoured to know this woman. And honoured to call Friend the woman who made it possible for her to vote in yesterday’s election.
When we met Mrs Henry, one of the first things she shared with us was her disappointment that for the first time in her life, she was not going to be able to vote in a Presidential Election — her frail physical condition makes it impossible for her to leave her home. From that moment, my friend was determined that Mrs. Henry be able to vote.
And she made it happen. She also quietly made the calls to get this incredible woman’s story televised.
Two women. Two lives. Two strengths. Tied together by a powerful bond called The Right to Vote.
A few weeks ago, my niece, excited about voting in her first Presidential Election, told me of her frustration with a friend who was refusing to vote at all.
“Oh well,” she said. “She probably would’ve voted for McCain, so it’s just as well.”
“No, it’s not,” I told her.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, no, it’s not ok for her not to vote at all.”
“Well, I know ‘everyone should vote’,” she said, using the tone that means she’s heard me say something a gazillion times. “But you can’t mean you’d still want her to vote even if she voted for McCain!”
“That’s exactly what I mean.”
“But, that makes no sense.”
“It makes the same sense it has all of your life when we’ve had this conversation,” I answered. “You have to remember that all over the world, people are dying — right now — for the right to vote. We have that right — we must always encourage people to exercise it.”
“Even if they’re going to vote for an idiot?”
“Even if they’re going to vote for an idiot.”
In her interview, Mrs Henry says, “We live in a nation that’s free. And it’s free because we’re allowed to vote.”
For the past eight years, we’ve lived in a nation that has not felt all that free. At least not to those of us who believe that our votes were stolen in 2000 and, quite possibly, again in 2004.
But here we are.
Here we are.
Under the leadership of a man whose blood is as much of one race as it is another and whose heart, intelligence, spirit and compassion, have enabled even the most jaded of us to say, “Yes we can”.
Yes we can.
And we will. We must.
What a privilege.