Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One of the most inspiring things I heard last night while channel-surfing was on the PBS Charlie Rose show from Bernard-Henri Levi:

Rosa Parks sat, Martin Luther King walked, Barack Obama ran, America flies.

That's when my tears started.

Obama's victory speech was a classic. I feel sorry for anyone who heard it and didn't feel inspired. Even more sympathy goes to those who are so bitter that they turned off the TV and refused to listen. I encountered one first thing this morning.

"Well, we've got us a baby-killing n****r!"

I listened to him rant about Obama's failure to stop partial-birth abortion.

"We, the Pro-Life and the Pro-Choice people, working together, can cut down on abortions, but we're not going to do it by outlawing abortions," I argued.

"It's not about cutting down the number of abortions," he admitted, "he's a _________" and again he repeated the epithet. "He didn't vote to ban partial-birth abortion when he could have!"

Aha! the moment of truth! An excuse to hate, that's all he wanted. He didn't care about the life of the baby, or the lives of any of the babies from unplanned pregnancies, or their mothers. A black man dared to stand up for the right of a woman to control her reproductive choices and my white neighbor hates him for it. Could it be he resents man's loss of control over women as much as he hates people based on skin color?

Then I grabbed his hoodie under his chin and got right in his face and told him, "Okay, I've listened to you for the last time. I don't want you to ever say that again in my presence."

Then I walked away, shaking, hurting, trying not to give in to hating this small-minded man with the shriveled heart (who proudly proclaims himself to be a Christian), trying to remember the prayers I looked up on Saturday, hoping I would get back in the house before the tears started. Thankfully, my dogs did their business quickly and I made it, but not before our paths crossed one more time in stony silence.

"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

11/6/08 Update: I found this prayer on Wounded Bird and borrowed it. Thanks again, GM!

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Book of Common Prayer] page 824


George Kelly said...

Cathy: Perhaps he was only trying to pull your chain or sadly, maybe, he thinks that way. I've always wondered how educated people, and I know too many, could have racism views; pardon the psycho-babble but I've come to the conclusion that such folks suffer from deep insecurities; if you are comfortable with yourself, there's no need to belittle others. Anyway, forget about him and enjoy this historical moment.


C J Garrett said...

Thanks, George. I am enjoying all the reports and interviews on MSNBC today. It helps to hear what progressive, intelligent people have to say. Hopefully, my neighbor's attitude is not as prevalent as it used to be.

Zoilus said...

There are some people who are unwilling to confront the evil in themselves, and thus must cast it on all who stand around them. I find it really funny that Obama inspires all this antipathy, and he is actually, from all objective measures, a slightly-right, slightly-authoritarian centrist. Yes, down and to the left of Bill Clinton, but Clinton was no friend to the left (see also: NAFTA, Welfare reform, Telecommunications Act, etc.).

If someone who is REALLY a left-leaning progressive were to gain power in America, the right wing would pack up and move to Germany.

C J Garrett said...

You're probably right. If you've read anything by/about Bernard-Henri Levi, and YOU probably have:)you get an idea of how moderate we American lefties are.

Sarah Goodyear said...


Good for you for standing up and saying you won't listen to that hate speech any longer. I know how hard it is to confront a neighbor. You've done a brave thing.

Let's enjoy this bright day in history.


C J Garrett said...

I appeciate your kind words, Sarah. How are you? Long time, no hear from.

Sarah Goodyear said...

I'm doing great. We all are, although like you we are sad about Prop 8. Thanks for your understanding on that.

Laura just left for Beijing this morning for a ten-day fellowship on international reporting. Amazing, hunh?