Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Here in our little corner of the South, today was a day like no other. After all, it snowed! I find it fitting that our area got more snow today than it has in at least 5 years, more snow than it has in any of the years I have lived here. Coincidentally, the history of our country changed today. How fortunate that my kids have something to crystallize the event in their memories. Our world was blanketed and has emerged anew.
My oldest son's January 18th comment about the man we would see inaugurated as our 44th President gave me serious pause. (He is the one who decided we should call today "SnObama Day", but that's not the comment to which I'm referring.) He said, "I don't see why people are getting so worked up about it, Mom. Isn't he just a guy?" I felt suddenly awash with the conflicting emotions, among others, of satisfaction and confusion.
I've been wondering, lately, if I've done a decent job of teaching my kids about racial issues, especially in the context of our history and our country. I've always tried to teach them that everyone in the world is equally important to our Father in Heaven, regardless of race, financial situation, religion, lifestyle, location, or any other differentiating factor. (As a parent, of course, I think my own kids are the most amazing and valuable people on the planet. What I'm talking about here is something different.) I cannot say that I have wanted them to be "colorblind", but instead that I want them to know that every person's heritage is a treasure - a story to be valued and even celebrated. The phrase they will tell you that I repeat to them is that no one in the world is any better than they are, just as they are no better than anyone else. I want them to value the history and heritage that comes along with each different person, but not prejudge. I want them to believe that they have just as much potential, right, and responsibility to do great works as any other person does.
"Only a people does it." It's a phrase I grew up hearing. Way back in the 1970's, my parents put down a vinyl floor in one room in our house - fitting, cutting, and placing it on their own. My mother was somewhat proud of their accomplishment and told her mother about it. Grandmother said, "You did it?" Mother replied that she had. Grandmother said, "Only a people does it." Mother tells me that she meant that if other people could do it, there was no reason they couldn't. Although it had the potential of deflating my parents' pride in their accomplishment at that moment, our family has used the phrase over time to remind us that there is no reason that we cannot accomplish whatever we decide we want to accomplish. I guess I come by it naturally.
Today, we played in the snow. We made snow angels, threw snowballs, tried to build a snowman (the snow was too powdery to build much more than a lump with sticks poking out of its sides), rode boogie boards and sleds down snowy hills, and then came in the house to see history in the making. Today, we watched a man rise to the high office of President of the United States of America. In a country where he once would have been valued as less than a human because of the blood that runs in his veins or the place where his father was born, we saw a man fulfill the dreams of thousands. Today, we bowed our heads over our lunch of soup and hot cocoa while our new President and our nation's leaders bowed their heads over an inaugural luncheon.
In the words of Reverend Lowery, "(Let all) who do justice and love mercy say amen, say amen, and amen!"