Sunday, December 16, 2012

In living color

The results of the recent US presidential election were a revelation to me, and they completed a shift inside me that had been a long time coming. Romney won a very solid majority of straight white men but Obama won in every other group (blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, Asian-Americans, and on and on...)--and this led to Romney's ending up with 47 percent (ha!) of the vote. And this helped me realize that I'm not a straight white male American, (well, I am, but...) I'm just an American.

And living for four years in a very alien, very similar culture--along with my wide range of friends and acquaintances among foreigners here, and my miscellaneous travels to Taiwan, Denmark, and Germany--helped me realize that I'm not an American, (well, I am, but...) I'm just a human.

And 21 years of being a vegetarian and "animal person", helped me realize that I'm not a human... well, you get it.

But I digress. (Shocker.)

I saw Martin Luther King's famous speech live on TV when I was nine. I watched Alabama police use billy clubs, attack dogs, and fire hoses on peaceful protesters when I was 11. And ever since then I've been for the underdog, the people who are low in the eyes of society. I don't claim any credit for this.

And I don't assign myself any blame for this: I have always, without meaning to, thought of the granting of rights as something "we" did for "them". That is, we white guys should share our perks with everyone because it's the right thing to do; but there was always the "us" who should be magnanimous toward the "them".

But my experiences, and the demographic changes showcased by the election, have finally helped me internalize something:

There is no them; there's just us.

I might have said this for decades now, but now I know it. And my America--I'm coming back someday, although I've never really left--and my world are better in living color.

We couldn't go back to the "traditional" America if we wanted to. And I don't want to. Ever again.