Saturday, November 8, 2008


I missed a trip to Chicago earlier today, thereby missing my first trip to the United Center and a fairly impressive win by the Bulls tonight over the Suns. To augment the harm, I also missed Maryland's last regular season home game, their eighth consecutive win, beating the Tar Heels 2 to 1 and secure a #2 seed for the ACC tournament because I was sitting at my office until 10:30 this evening.

Life rolls on...

And this thing happened on Tuesday and I am having some difficulty shaking the effects. Thousands of people from around the world have written some pretty amazing things about what this year's Presidential election meant to them or to the country/world generally. Any comments I might have are undoubtedly derivative and certainly not any more interesting. But at the same time, it meant something to me. As the returns rolled in, I came to the realization that I was more excited about this than the prospect of the Cubs winning the World Series (which is how it should be, of course) and that when Wednesday rolled around this country would be different.

Since a young boy, I've been told that you can make yourself into anything you want to, in this country of endless opportunity. I believed in that shared myth more strongly than I believed in what I was taught each Sunday at mass -- I believed it so much, I won some ridiculous essay contest for my school district in the seventh grade on what the American flag meant to me. And then an experienced reality challenged the idyllic view of what was possible -- la migra stopping me so frequently that I have carried my passport every day from when I was thirteen years old until earlier this year; stuck in remedial classes as a freshman in high school despite being an honors student in junior high because, well, I don't know why; had my achievements in high school and community college that got me into a great college at the age of 16 wiped away by teachers telling me that any admission must be chalked up to affirmative action. Nevertheless, throughout, my faith in the country did not crack, and in two decades I have been able to take advantage of all the opportunities that have been there to take. For me, the promise of the American dream has been unquestionably realized, from the barrio to solid middle class in one generation.

But I've never been wholly convinced that my experience was not aberrational. That somehow or other I slipped through a net that ensnares almost everyone else in the same circumstances. But Tuesday night, while weeping reading the accounts of others as to what the election meant to them, I looked over at my sister who sat next to my wife, and I thought of my daughter and those doubts washed away. This is the country I have always believed in. This is the country that draws people to its shores despite great peril to those who seek to make the sojourn. This is the country that burns the dangerous light of hope in the hearts and minds of those that have little else.

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