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    Reading “The Audacity of Hope”

    I have been listening to President Elect Obama’s book, titled “The Audacity of Hope.” He reads it himself and is a good reader.

    In the introduction of the book, he talks about when he first ran for state senate in Illinois. He said he often was questioned by people he spoke to as follows:

    “Where’d you get that funny name?” and “You seem like a nice enough guy. Why do you want to go into something dirty and nasty like Politics?”

    I have read he already has the highest approval rating of anyone who has yet to take office as president. And when I first wrote about the election, my friend Nancy Muskin sent me a response she got from a family member about the hopefulness people have about our new president. She winters in Arizona but the rest of the year is local here in Fulton County.

    As my friend Nancy said, “I had a very close first cousin …who really put the blacks and whites in Richmond together for the first time.  She was the only white professor at Virginia Union sociology at one time. …Her daughter’s husband Jamie wrote what I want to forward.” 

    Here is part of what her “cousin-in-law” had to say on election night:

    “November 4, 2008.

    After a certain point in life, how much can I expect?

              Can I expect a black man to be elected President?

    Can I actually expect a majority of the American public to pull together, in response to their instincts, and reject a system of beliefs, both personal and economic, that has dominated our lives?

    Okay, maybe I can.

    Maybe I can go back to hoping. Not personal hoping, which I find is a requirement for getting out of the bed each morning anyway. But perhaps now I can go back to hoping with others.

    But what were the most encouraging parts of tonight for me?

    We watched the election results downtown (New York City) at a friend’s, then had to find our way back uptown around 1a.m. Out in the street, cars were honking and people were cheering, not because a local team had made it to the championship but because we now had a leader who gives us hope. Horn honking, that perpetual symbol of New York impatience was now a sign of joy and camaraderie.

    As it turned out, finding a taxi to get us back uptown was not going to happen. We finally jumped on the subway which, as is rarely the case, turned out to be the most exciting moment of all. The minute the train doors opened at our station, there was loud, sustained applause from everyone on the train, welcoming us newcomers to join the celebration. Somehow, before we had gotten on, a group of disparate travelers decided this was the appropriate expression of their joy and relief.  And at every successive stop, the minute the doors opened, we all applauded and cheered to welcome our new fellow celebrants.

    Several stops later, a young woman of West Indian descent got on and opened a gigantic replica of the American flag that filled the entire car, to everyone’s delight. She quietly began to sing “God Bless America” and suddenly the entire car was singing with her.  The New York City subway, so long a metaphor for fear and despair, became a spontaneous victory train.

    Maybe, just maybe, the every-man-for-himself theory that has been planted in our collective subconscious since the rise of Ronald Reagan will gradually be replaced with the idea that we are all in this together.

              Is that too much to expect? – Jamie”

    I didn’t want to re-hash the book I just finished. Better you should read it for yourself. But it’s that “Audacity of Hope” title which is so well expressed in this election night e-mail that I share and I know many of my readers share too.

    Cheers.


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com