November 4, 2008
4:30 p.m. Detroit, Michigan
My in-box was full today with e-mail messages that started like this one:
“Dear Susan Horowitz, Today we have the opportunity to take part in the most
important election of our time.”
I reflected on the words “our time”. For me “our time” began forty years ago.
In 1968 at the ripe old age of 15, my parents refused to let me attend the Democratic Convention in Chicago. I cried. I wanted to be with “my people” who were demonstrating that August in Chicago’s Grant Park. The Vietnam War was raging and tearing the country apart. George Wallace was a segregationist candidate running for the U.S. Presidency. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated – I was burning up inside and feeling pretty hopeless about where our country was headed.
As I sit here this afternoon awaiting another gathering in Grant Park, I sense that same calling to be with “my people”. But this time it is different. These long forty years of waiting have brought more progress than I was able to understand or appreciate – even as I lived it.
I have been angry for so long. Tired of crazy wars. Tired of turning our backs on our fellow citizens here at home. Tired of watching us pit one American against another and using it as fodder in the voting booth across America.
As recently as 2004 – as a gay American – I watched eleven states across this country vote out of ignorance and fear, to curtail my civil rights. People were dogged on by the most vicious, vengeful idealogues on the right – sentiments fully supported by the President of the United States. Tonight we will watch this fight continue in California, Florida and Arizona.
However today, even though I know there will be more battles to fight, I have a sense of hope in my heart. I see wedge politics finally fading into the distance and I feel the true possibility of unity of purpose. There is a calling to help this country live up to its greatest promises of liberty and justice for all of us.
I finally get all those community organizing meetings where we bemoaned “process” and thought absolutely no progress was being made. Today I see these meetings helped heal so many wounds. Helped provide a voice for so much pain, anger and disenfranchisement. As so many smarter people used to say to me, “You have to go through it, you cannot go around it.”
The “it” was learning to listen, learning patience, learning to value and honor our differences.
Today is a transcendental day for me – I have lived to witness one of the greatest healing moments in our country’s history. I look forward to waking up tomorrow to a new day where we have voted for hope – the simple, powerful audacity of it all. My heart is soaring over Grant Park tonight.