Two Worlds Can Become One Universe

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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. 

Comments

I know exactly what you mean.

Submitted by SteveBurby on 13 November 2012 - 3:58pm.

I know exactly what you mean. I'm a straight white 52-year-old male high school English teacher. I was raised on a farm in upstate New York. I knew a total of four people of color and perhaps three Jewish families while growing up. Now I teach in a predominantly Hispanic community; my principal, one of the best I've known, is an African American woman; My assistant principals are both men, one African American, one Chinese American; and my previous principal was a Hispanic man. I have good friends who cover the entire spectrum of LGBTQ, including gay and lesbian couples raising children. This state of affairs is the new normal, and what it represents is that American "traditionalists" can no longer claim the privileges formerly accorded them merely by being white and male. The results of this election proved that the United States is continuing to evolve into a "more equal union."

I see your organization

Submitted by G3Ken on 21 November 2012 - 12:22pm.

I see your organization withes to promote "tolerance", but not differing viewpoints. You so proudly announce the amazing collage of different folks at an Obama event, yet forget they are not so different. They are all supporters of Obama's vision of America, which differs from the other 50% of Americans (or thereabouts).

"Tolerance" is tolerating one's viewpoint, even if you find it contrary to your own viewpoint. That's what it is all about. If I choose to carry a pistol in a state that permits it legally, you may not like it, but you must tolerate it. If I wear a tee-shirt that said "White Power", although I certainly wouldn't as my wife is Asian and that is where I met her, it would be something you would have to tolerate. It implies pride in MY race. Then UFC Heavyweightweight Champion, Cain Velasquez, has a tattoo across his chest saying "Brown Pride", although he speaks no Spanish, tens of thousands of Mexicans came to applaud him after his victory. I have no issue with pride in one's heritage. Why is it a one-way street?

By all means, teach tolerance, but tolerance for all viewpoints, even those you strongly disagree with. As long as they are not promoting violence, it is their right to do what they like.

BTW, I love Ron Paul, but I understand you see his por-Constitutional followers as potential "hate group" members. Tolerance........