Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lesson In 6 Words

Through several blog links, I ran across this at the New York Times. It is about the new rage of summing up a story in 6 words. I found it quite interesting.

As I have been on vacation this week, I have spent a lot of time hearing about recent election controversies. I am not a terribly "political" person. If I allowed myself to get wrapped up in all of it, I would be a depressed, angry mess. But this race is different. Our country is faced with something different and untested. It seems we are not quite sure how to react, not sure how to handle a woman and a black man running for President.

I have heard some vile things coming from people, in the media and in conversations overheard. I have never been a real fan of Hillary. Still I am amazed at some of the things that have been brought up against her. But even more, criticism of Obama seems very personal - for the color of his skin, his mixed race, for his middle (or his full) name, questions about his dedication to Christianity because of his name, now for his association with a hate spewing minister. I have felt the need to defend him, even though I have not made the decision to vote for him. It was all so unreasonable. And he always rose above it all, inspiring me with his words.

Until now. In an interview he was asked to clarify his statement regarding his white grandmother. I thought his statement was important and heartfelt. But sometimes we should just stop trying to explain and shut up. In the interview, he said 6 words that I could not get past . . . "She was a typical white person . . . ".

What does that mean? Last time I looked, there is nothing typical about any race. I had a hard time looking at him in the same way after that.

Then I thought about my own statements. My grandmother was white too - go figure! And she, as many of her generation were, was racist. I loved my grandmother more than anything else in this world. And she loved me unconditionally. But I could not get past her prejudice. It hurt my heart. Many times, I defended her saying she was TYPICAL of her generation. As if that made it okay.

Now I know that was wrong. It is just as wrong to lump an entire generation of people into one category as it is a race, a gender, or a sexual preference. There were many of her generation that marched with Dr. King and made choices that affected our progress in Civil Rights.

So how can I fault Obama for saying something I have said before? He was trying to defend - his grandmother, the past, his statements. It is sad that we put our candidates in these positions where we hold them to higher than human standards. I do too.

So my lesson in 6 words . . . Learn from it, just do better.