Today, I’m at a cruising altitude of some 35,000 feet, heading towards my first meeting with my granddaughter Sophia Odette German. And I am reborn into the world again, amazed at my own good fortune, excited about the future.
We’ve survived the lunacy of another presidential election, an exercise in excess and mudslinging, half-truths and outright lies, one of the things that make this country great. Nobody died, no buildings burned, no army took over. We’ll see if we can come together now and get it right, and we never come together and get it right no matter who wins, and it’s still the best system in the world. Isn’t that amazing?
When this tube of aluminum I’m encased in hurled itself from the ground by forcing burning fuel through carefully engineered orifices, building pressure barely below that required to explode outright, pushing the tons of aluminum and steel and human bodies faster and faster over acres of concrete until the wings could no longer remain earthbound, lift overcame drag, we flew. North over the Atlantic Coast we now fly above Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where a scant 110 years ago two brothers managed to coax a powered kite to skim off the sand and fly some 120 feet for about 12 seconds.
We fly toward a city and coastline that a week and a half ago was inundated in more water than ever imagined, where hundreds of planes were grounded or rerouted, people stranded, subways engulfed in water. And there followed a snowstorm this week, bringing ice and cold. And the city breathes in and out, and the people of America come together and sort out the damage and devastation, lives move on, the city breathes the human drama of life.
There are those predicting the end of America as a result of the election, of a dive off a fiscal cliff, of cataclysm on Wall Street. If the election had gone the other way, the same predictions would fill the airwaves, just from different sources.
There is no fiscal cliff.
That’s a term dreamed up by someone dreaming up fear. There are economic problems to deal with, and we will. Despite the best opposition from those who would like to see us fail, we won’t. Fear sells well, but it cannot control what we do and accomplish unless we let it.
Most of us get up each morning and do what we must. That’s the beauty of this experiment called America. And we are NOT a divided country, despite what the talking heads and party leaders want to sell. We differ on policies, we differ on beliefs, we differ on skin color and hair and teeth. But we come together when the chips are down. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was a vocal and vehement critic of President Obama during the campaign, but when New Jersey needed help with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, they worked together and Governor Christie was also vocal in his thanks to the president.
House majority leader Boehner said it’s time to work together, to compromise; President Obama said he intended to work with both parties, and to consult with Mr. Romney in going forward. Mr. Romney was gracious in his defeat, and urged those in his own party to search for the common ground.
And it’s out there, that common ground. Always has been. It’s just that so few have really been looking for it. Change is so very hard for most of us, and as we slow our own walk it overtakes us and eventually buries us. But there are always those to fill our shoes.
And I’m going to meet one of them, and I’m very excited.
I can’t even imagine what her future will look like, as I think of the world my mother grew up in, now passing on past her children to her grandchildren, my son, my daughter.
Mother road to grade school in a horse-drawn carriage in Pierce County, Nebraska. She lived through the Great Depression, a depression manufactured by greed just like this current economic morass was manufactured by greed. That was compounded by the craziness of the weather in the 30s, the Dust Bowl, the tremendous towering clouds that rolled through the Midwest. Phones were a luxury and bolted to the wall; ice was delivered, not made in a refrigerator; there was no TV, little radio, some electricity, few airplanes (those who could afford to fly dressed up in there best clothes to do so); rockets were for the Fourth of July and there was a man-in-the-moon but had never been one on it. Computers? iPods? Internet? Nike, Adidas, J.Crew? What will Sophia know that hasn’t even yet been dreamed?
Barack Obama will be a historical footnote for her, and I hope a good one.The give and take of our system requires that those in power will eventually be out of power and others will take their place as the pendulum of politics swings right and left, left and right. That is a good thing and has served us well. It is up to those of us who care to keep that rhythm first laid down by the Founding Fathers.