Of course we came for the main event: To witness the Swearing In Ceremony of Barack Obama and to hear his Inaugural Address (part 1 and part 2). But if that was all, we could have stayed home, had a much better view, and a great bathroom right down the hall. But we were after something more.
I’m not sure I can even describe what I mean except to say that I wanted to feel the love. Sounds cheesy, I know. Maybe I should delete those last two words and not risk damaging my hard earned tough-guy image. But nope, I’m letting them stand because it’s the truth. I wanted to be with all those people who also came to feel the tsunami of love that washed over the National Mall on January 21, 2009. Just having that one thing in common transformed 1.8 million strangers into old friends.
In the 12 foot radius around us people from South Carolina joked with people from Indiana. People from Maryland sang and boogied with people from Minnesota. People from everywhere grinned knowingly at one another as if to say, “How cool is this?!” During our three and a half hours packed together like ice cubes in a tray, we cheerfully shared the basics of human survival– food, space, and chemical warmth. (The ones for our hands worked way better than the ones we stuffed in our shoes.)
When the ceremony was over, I trudged away thinking, if we could so easily create an instant sense of community out of a bunch of strangers (with the bonding and the trust that goes with it), what’s keeping us from being more cooperative all the time, especially with people we know really well? What could you do to get along better with your own family? With your friends? With the kids in your class? This is what “Out of many, one” really means.
Maybe you’re thinking… “Yeah, sure. I’d like to feel closer to the people I live with and the people I hang out with.” Everyone would. But we don’t often take the first step in that direction. When I hold back it’s usually because I’m afraid I might get laughed at, or ignored or rejected in some other way. That’s my excuse for not putting my friendliest self forward. What’s yours? C’mon… let’s be honest. Post your comments.