For two weeks I have been gone and it has been a trip that I never intended to make.
Without foresight, without plan and without intention I went to the political conventions. They were my days and my evenings and my thoughts. I was captured in a way I don’t remember ever being captured before.
This election had affected me unlike any I remember. I have always had preferences. I was always for someone. Often they lost. But this time has been different. For the first time it has been about betrayal and attack. For the first time it was about a joke that became reality and then became nightmare. It was an election with only one real question. Was Donald Trump to become our new reality?
I am normally pretty good with words but the words that describe the horror I have felt watching his ascendancy escape me. I don’t think they exist. I have felt, to paraphrase a long ago book title, like a stranger in the strangest of lands.
I never thought I would see the day when a 6th grade bully would capture the imagination of so many and his cruelty and meanness be praised as some kind of bravery worthy of our emulation. I never thought I would see the day when a presidential candidates only answer to every issue was to brag about himself. I never thought I would see the day when someone who had never cared about anybody but himself in his whole life would be admired by many as the person who cares for us the most. I never thought I would see the day when someone who lies so frequently and distorts the truth of his life so easily and so often would somehow become the person who understands the truth of our life so well. It was like watching my country be kidnapped and fearing soon the hostage would be killed.
I have lived a long time and the idea that this might be a last chapter seemed so unfair and so wrong but it seemed an abomination to be what defines the world my grandson Tobin might grow up in. I wondered who would testify for human decency in a time so threatening and so dangerous.
You see as the picture at the top of the post says it is free. It is ours if we claim it but we must claim it and protect it and nurture it and live like it matters. It was and is free. It is available to all. It only awaits our choice. Our commitment.
Watching the campaign has been like watching a car wreck forever on replay. It has had no ceiling. Every abomination has been followed by one of equal or greater hurt. You want to turn and look away but you are seized by the fear that one day it will be you in the car, your family in the car, the things that define the life you hope to find torn up and destroyed.
The Republican convention was the worst of things. It was lynch mob prodded on and pushed by those who would use the anger and fear of others as the fuel to serve their goals. It was Salem and a witch burning with everyone screaming for the first match. It was blood. And I felt sick. Actually physically sick.
The Democratic convention told me that hope was not gone. It told me that human decency was not dead, that it did matter and that while many things were wrong with this country we were more than what was hard and what was wrong need not be the final verdict on us.
The were many high points. The lie of Donald Trump was exposed time after time. The words in the video below though were the strongest and the loudest. They were the worlds of a father for a son but they were words to all fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. They were words about the possibility of decency and the bravery of ordinary people. They were words about something worth fighting for and something worth living for and they were a call to all of us to answer the challenge ahead.
The journey ahead is one to put the lie to the inevitability of hatred and bigotry and fear. It is a journey to say human beings matter and human decency is possible. It is a journey from a long dark night to a new day.
It is a journey to new home and a better life. It is a journey for America. It is a journey for me and a journey for you.