Okay, so we’re all still here.
That’s what I want us to remember following the presidential election. There’s been so much talk of the Big Divide, of two worlds within one country, of two opposing visions, sets of values and versions of our nation. We speak entirely different languages and literally, it seems, experience “the truth” as entirely different and, alas, incompatible truths.
I feel for us all. It’s so alienating and frankly, scary, to be so unheard. It’s like when you have those dreams when you’re screaming some utterly urgent message and no one can hear you, everybody just goes about their business while you’re silently shrieking some blood-curdling truth. I imagine that’s how a lot of people felt over the course of the presidential campaign of 2012—lots of silent screaming.
Now that the election is over, I would love to see bridges built (literal and metaphorical) and for there to be more connections discovered between all of us.
I think I know what that might look like. I think the answer was right there in front of us, in McCormick Auditorium this week, where Obama supporters stood, 10,000 strong.
In the end, the most compelling image wasn't of either man (still men, just noting) on the stage. The most powerful image was the 10,000 folks in that crowd. We all watched it, a magnificent hot mess of humanity. Personally, I found great solace, relief and hope in the messy, loud, everyone-ness of the crowd. All those students, folks of all ages, all hues, all hair types, all kinds of weird hats, seriously flawed fashion decisions and dance moves. It was nuts. It was loud and beautiful. There were 50-year-old white male veterans dancing next to inner-city African-American college students. There were brown-skinned, elderly ladies in sparkly church hats waving flags and shimmying beside blonde, suburbanite college girls. Everybody was represented: men who love men, soccer moms, the much-maligned single mother brigade.
I looked at that mass of humanity and I felt like I was seeing the power of our possibilities. These folks are all so very different. The people in that room came from across the categories of race, class, experience, culture, education, you name it. The folks in that room are divided by many of the big-ticket items we fight about in this country. But they came together.
It’s the greatest picture for inclusion that I can imagine.
That’s what I saw. And for me, it looked like hope. And it made me feel like shouting: Count me in! I could walk into that room and feel right at home. That's my country. That's my United States, statistical and actual. So welcome home. Again.
Feels like home. Again.
Cytrynbaum is executive director of the Chicago Innocence Project and teaches a city-wide investigative journalism course.
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