The last thing I expected when eating my oatmeal this morning and streaming (an hour later) the day’s broadcast of “Morning Joe,” was to tear up and choke up over the Democratic Convention coverage. I had to put my spoon down and use my napkin to wipe away tears.
The program played a montage of moments from the second night of the Democratic Convention when Hilary Clinton was formally nominated and among the faces and voices was a 102-year-old woman announcing her state’s vote for Clinton. Also on my iPad was flashed the face and voice of Bernie Sander’s brother announcing his delegation’s votes for Bernie, and then the camera panned to Bernie with tears in his eyes. It got me.
I hadn’t watched the coverage in real time because nothing says cynical, pay-to-play self-interest like Bill Clinton does, and he causes other emotions to well up within me. (I do not necessarily cast those aspersions onto Hilary because I believe she actually has some progressive core values in addition to being a politician). But in all honesty, it was the rancor of the first day emanating from the so-called “Bernie or Bust” partisans that evoked extreme discomfort in me.
I personally recognized the fury and disgust of outsiders that tried to be insiders, only to then meet the beast they had rejected for so long. If I feel at home anywhere it is with them on the street or at the edge of the crowd (or in the last pew). But here and now, in this political moment, I am digging into a battle station called pragmatism.
Understanding that I am not at home with Hilary and the Neo-Liberals I was all the more surprised by my emotions this morning.
It was the voice of that 102-year-old woman racking across the years of repression and somewhere near the end of her life, like Moses gazing over the Jordan, catching a glimpse of the Promise Land. I saw in her face, and heard in her voice, my own mother who, for reasons both personal and sociological, was never given or took the opportunities that could have helped her climb to her potential. It was the love of two brothers recognizing they stood in the trajectory of their parent’s love, and sharing an intimate moment with each other in front of millions. It happened in spite of the commercialized news media’s lust for corporate profit that obliterate any residue of public service. It was because both historic destiny and personal authenticity can still bleed through the fog sometimes.
In that 102-year-old woman declaring triumph and history with her votes for Hilary, and Bernie’s brother tearfully and with pride holding up his delegation’s votes for Bernie, humanity glimmered in the moment. The unadulterated purity of righteousness and the sandpaper grit of pragmatism, and every gradation between them, hold the sweet and poignant faces of humanity. Please, let’s not forget those faces and those voices as we stand in our respective places declaring our loyalty, passion or resolve.
Most of the people I know well will vote for Hilary even though they wanted Bernie, or for one of the minor party candidates. But I am also pleased to say I know some folks that will vote for the Republican candidate as well – “pleased” because I do not want to live in a bubble of segregation away from those who do not see what I see. Being in the presence and within the circle of those with whom we disagree, is one of the most powerful acts of public service there is. We subvert the dark and intentional efforts toward polarization when we see the humanity in one another; when we look into the eyes of those we believe are desperately and shockingly wrong, and recognize the love of God.