Wednesday, November 5, 2008


“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Reservoir of Emotion

Talking today with a friend about the Presidential election, we shared some stories of working forty and fifty years ago, as liberal organizers, to make a difference in a world that was then overtly racist and discriminatory.

It is amazing to consider. My first public effort occurred in the first weeks of December of 1963. I was a sophomore at Washington State University and, while involved in student government, organized a week long symposium called "Student Get Off Your Apathy." Some of you will recall the early stirrings on campus during those times. I was specifically responsible for a day dealing with civil rights issues. I invited a speaker to come from Monroe, North Carolina, where the so-called "Monroe Movement," was an early catalyst for the civil disobedience that would transform the South.

Just five years later I was working in the rural south helping to organize the disenfranchised and create opportunities (see posts on that subject at It was very basic, elemental work to provide basic services, and by the way, register people to vote who had never considered that to be an option. I know that is hard for people today to understand, but it was indeed the case.

Now, we are on the cusp of electing an African-American President of these United States. And, as my friend and I talked today, I could feel a reservoir of emotion, in some deep hidden place, begin to well.

It is a common thing, I believe. That the banal aspects of life, including those occasional soaring idealistic goals we commit ourselves to, leave small deposits of emotion as we move through our lives. A reservoir of emotion will fill, never to overflowing, until some event occurs; a trigger which releases the flood.

Somehow, I sense such an emotional release will come with the election of Barack Obama. It is time for that to happen. It will be transforming and liberating for a great majority of us and for those around the world who look to us. I believe that.

Washington State's former governor, Gary Locke, was just in China. A Chinese official, a woman, asked Locke who he thought would win the Presidential election. He said, "Barack Obama." The Chinese woman replied, "American people are beautiful."
I hope and pray it is so.