Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On the Front Porch of Democracy

In the past week, new flames rose in the bellies of Americans who felt lost in the eyes of their representatives. The fire turned to action for thousands of the complacent, and refreshed the hearts and souls of the already passionate.

In the past week, I saw people come together to offer kindling for each others’ fires in solidarity, and a new light, for perhaps the first time this century, glowed brightly enough to be seen around the world. We joined efforts. We stood together. Democrats and Republicans. High school students and retirees. Professionals, lay persons, unemployed. The blessed and the broken, alike.

In the past week, I saw people step outside of their comfort zones for the first time ever, picking up the heavy phone and calling for support. And I saw people who have been fighting every moment these last five years, nonstop, and unrewarded. People rallying around strangers and invisible friends in a spectacular and selfless display of patriotism. People with the passion of our founding fathers.

With the magic and power of technology, America has a new Heartland, one that is spread from shore to shore; one that dots this entire continent like flaming meringue peaks on baked Alaska. And with this power comes strength in numbers. For those who, in years gone by, commiserated in the safe company of five or six on a neighbor’s front steps, in the hallways of stone libraries, in cold, grey basements of town halls, in sparse groups on park benches or blankets nestled over long, green grass, there is new hope. For these comrades in arms now come by the thousands to gather on this our invisible, boundless, front porch of freedom.

A bond has been formed among people who would have never met, who would have never socialized in years past. People of all heritages, creeds, colors, orientations and economic statuses now find comfort, support, and momentum in virtual living rooms, where ideas flow freely without constraint of thought or time.

What once was an unfamiliar underground for the elite is now a comfortable playground that knows no fence; that ebbs and flows with the passing of current events, victories, and deepest sorrows. We find comfort in the knowing that this magic will only grow, and that our friends yet unknown will find us, and find a place here on our cherry porch swing, or these strong, and weathered, wooden steps.

It is only with the support of our fellow community of fires that our bellies continue to burn. Though our sorrows overcome us at times, though we choke back the hurt, though the lumps in our throats grow larger instead of subside, from each of these wounds will grow a new and stronger life, like a phoenix, such that we can do nothing but go on to the next battle, resolved. There is nothing that can dissuade our passion for long. So we go on. And with us, we take what small victories and lessons learned, and further build this porch on the strength of them.

Sometimes victories are camouflaged. Our front-yard saplings become mature before our very eyes, but the slow growth goes unnoticed until we sit on our front porch with the photo album and remember the day these trees were planted. The day of remembrance is a day of celebration; it’s a day of hope, and rekindling. For it is when saplings are planted that they are the weakest. They grow stronger within weeks, months; and years later we’ve forgotten the chances we took, or didn’t take, back then.

Take out the photo album with me. Remember a time when we held the majority. Remember a vote, not unlike the one we watched fall flat before our unbelieving eyes yesterday. The result was far more sorrowful that day than this, because our representatives, our majority, would not consider back then the risk some of our minority took this week. We count a net gain of twenty-five voices on our behalf since that day.

Celebrate, just a little, if you can. When you’re ready -- because you know that day will come -- risk it again, knowing well, this time, that bittersweet tastes a little like fear to the tongue. But the spice of our passion quells it.

The road is always long – if it weren’t, would we bother to venture? From the midst of our despair, our anger, our wounds, will come our phoenix, rising up with new life, new determination. Next week, next month, next year, we will open our album and remember there was a day that twenty-five stood strong and courageous for us.
Today we plant a tree to mark the time. A tree that one day will provide shade and comfort over this, our porch of democracy.

Twenty-five stood for us. This is not just the beginning. Indeed, we are half-way there.


Blogger ilse said...

You give good metaphor, baby. Gimme a cigarette.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Swami said...

I actually have no idea what you're talking about, but it's such nice & pretty talk that I am ready to join up anyway. Once I get all those d@mn people off my front porch.

8:45 AM  
Blogger HistoryDetective said...

Preach it, Sister Wheezus!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Buggy said...

She brilliant, the Wheezus

6:08 AM  

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