Friday, October 31, 2008

Whole New World

Almost 40 years ago, my family and I moved into a suburban neighborhood with lots of other kids who were about my age. We all went to the same elementary school right there in that neighborhood and most of us formed friendships that continued all through high school.

As my friends and I grew up, we talked about leaving town, going to college, making our way in the world. We dreamed of who and what we'd become, sometimes, maybe even frequently, changing our minds. But not one of us, in my little circle of friends, ever said, "When I grow up, i want to be president of the United States."

In our world, we watched as the miniseries "Roots" changed the national conversation and eventually, made us seem less exotic, less strange, to the people who didn't know us.

Some of us, most of us, were alive but very young when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. We knew all about him and sang along with Stevie Wonder that there ought to be a day set aside just to celebrate him. And then there was. Martin Luther King Day became a national holiday.

Jesse Jackson decided that he wanted to be president and many of us rolled our eyes. "Keep hope alive, Jesse!" we said.

But now, in just a few short days, if my prayers are answered in the way I would like, the world will change again and my son, who is 7, will live in a world completely different from the one I grew up in. He will live in a world where he can say, "when I grow up, I want to be president of the United States," and instead of laughing, people will take him seriously.

In the past couple of months, I have felt very connected to a group of people all across the country who have voted or will vote on Tuesday. Some of them have never voted before and many of them usually don't vote but will vote this time. I have seen them in my head and felt them in my heart.

I have imagined them registering and making sure that all of their information is a perfect match. I've imagined them preparing to stand in long lines, hoping to participate in creating a miracle.

Hoping to vote not just on the issues they care about, but also hoping to help create a miracle. Hoping to create a change in the world that will make it obvious to their children, their nieces, their nephews and their grandchildren that if they want to, it might just be possible to be president when they grow up.

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