This has been the week of all weeks. Hard to believe that the shootings in AZ happened just a week ago. With a 24 hour news cycle, we’ve heard so much that it seems longer than just the week. Then Sarah Palin. Then the President’s speech. Then my car being towed. Then my friend’s husband passing.
And knitting through all of it and finishing a ruffle scarf and thinking the shawl that never ends will really never end.
My friend, Vivian, is the president of the Chicago Northwestern District of United Methodist Women. I met her because she came and recruited me into the group. She is almost impossible to say no to. She has fire and spirit and such faith. Her husband had been sick with stage 4 cancer and we had a meeting at her house this past Saturday morning so she could stay near her husband who was in great spirits but weaker. Treatments were no longer an option and he wanted to be home.
We had a wonderful meeting Saturday morning and left her house at about 12:30. Yesterday morning she sent an email to say he passed that afternoon. I am not worried about Vivian who is standing firmly and gracefully in the arms of God. We gave her a prayer shawl Saturday morning as a way to take care of the caregiver. But she is strong. And while we know there will be tears; there will be no regrets for the life he lead and the one that now changes with his absence. She is a child of God and knows where to find her strength.
So, Friday my knitting group met and the bookstore. We usually park across the street because the parking lot is free. It is still free but with the new year came a three hour parking limit. We stayed for three hours and ten minutes. And the cars that were parked there were gone. I called Mr. Honey who came and got us and drove us to where the cars were and $194 later….OK, this so isn’t going to happen again.
I’ve said before I didn’t vote for Barack Obama (didn’t vote for McCain, either.) I knew McCain was not who I wanted and I was too involved in Chicago politics to be easy with a very green state senator who surrounded himself with a group of Chicago party players. I remember the speech he gave in 2004 and I turned to the person next to me and said, “They’re going to run him for president in the next election.” That was no great pronouncement.
But he has surprised me for the exact same reason Sarah Palin does not: he is showing a skill in growing into the job and he is showing that while the change that was promised isn’t coming in this thundering, sweeping way that the country imagined it would, he just might be making inroads that weren’t there before. If you look at his list of accomplishments, it is impressive.
The speech he gave Wednesday hooked the country at different places. For me, it was when he changed what was on the paper. The original text was: “I want us to live up to her expectations.” But when he paused and then said: “I want to live up to her expectations.” and you could hear that something in his voice, for me, I felt what folks had been feeling during the race. How he has handled himself throughout the three years and how he handled this situation is impressive.
Can anyone imagine he was not thinking about his own 9 year old? Can anyone imagine that his daughters have not received threats? There are so many things we don’t hear about but we know the threats to the president’s safety has gone up since this election and I don’t think it is unreasonable to think that some of those threats were directed toward his family.
The tone was perfectly set to make us think about the tone of general discourse that has been around the country. It’s been almost game like. One upmanship and making sure there were winners and losers and not connecting with the fact that the decisions that are made affect real people. Nastiness as a management style. Even though the president made it clear that the incivility was not caused by one specific person, we now have the opportunity to make sure that if this should happen again there will be no opportunity to try and make the connection between action and rhetoric.
Which brings us to Sarah Palin. What a shame to blow that opportunity. There was no way that there would be no question about political rhetoric especially given how much of it she uses. Someone was going to make that case even if the conclusion was wrong. I get the anger of being singled out for something you didn’t do. I have someone who lies about me at every chance. But if you’re going to pretend to be running for president, you’re going to have to pretend to be presidential and this was a moment that could have moved her up in the minds of people but that message was so off base and so offensive that all we could talk about was how she purposely upstaged the president on a national day of remembrance and how self centered she appeared. I never thought she was running; it was a way to keep herself relevant. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did run just to keep herself on a stage that the GOP is going to move her off of. If she doesn’t want to become a joke she needs to figure out how to gracefully exit that part of politics and make her living in political media instead of trying to be a serious contender for public office.
There’s talk about the Republicans and Democrats sitting together at the State of the Union. It is a great step to make. It will be harder to cry out and act out and it will help move it back from the hurtful atmosphere it is to a more grown up event even if there is disagreement on the issues. I am hopeful we will hold ourselves accountable for the behavior we control and the behavior exhibited by those we elect.
And what an inspiration Gabrielle Giffords is. She talked the talk and walked the walk and her progress and recovery is a model of strength and truth and power. I fully expect her to return to her office one day and I cannot wait to see that day come.
This is a new week. I am hoping to have a more stable week and I hope we can all get our balance back. There will be times of imperfection but that’s OK. We just have to make more perfect moments. Just a few more here and there until it’s a habit then maybe we can move toward the King promise and the nation can be judged by the content of its character and not the color of the states.