The personification of hope

A month or two ago, as I was at Mock Trial State Championships in Springfield, IL. On a dreary Saturday afternoon my team and I went out to lunch at a restaurant called McCarthy’s. They have a few flat screen TV’s mounted on the walls near the bar, and one of them was turned to CNN. As the rest of my team gathered around our coaches and watched some sports game, I made my way over to the CNN TV. It must’ve been on mute, because no sound was coming out. However, Barack Obama was speaking. Though I couldn’t hear a word he said, I stood and watched. Obama’s charisma was visible even without words to convey it, and for some indefinable reason, I find watching him speak comforting.

As I stood there watching the silent TV in the otherwise empty part of the bar area, I saw an African-American man, probably in his early 30’s, sweeping the floor. I noticed that he kept looking up at the TV screen, and that he was likewise watching Obama speak. Gradually, he came closer to where I was standing, and for a moment, he stopped sweeping altogether to watch the silent screen. There we stood- a macchiato-sipping, white, female high school student and an African-American custodian in his 30’s. We stood together in silence and watched Obama speak.

Once Obama’s speech was finished and the screen showed a CNN news anchor instead, the man asked me, “Is there anything I can get you?” The spell had broken.

That moment reminds me of a conversation I later had with Senator Dick Durbin. He said that he has never seen a politician inspire people the way Barack Obama does.

In that moment, in that dark bar at McCarthy’s in Springfield, IL, I experienced that firsthand. The custodian and I were brought together for a brief moment in lives that would probably never again cross paths, yet that moment illustrates Obama’s effect on America. That effect is unification of people from all backgrounds, and it is an effect that we desperately need. Obama brings us back to what it truly means to be an American by bringing people back to the core values of our nation- the belief in the inherent goodness of man, the necessity of a government that truly represents the people, and the inalienable right of freedom.

I realize that hearing Obama’s words as he spoke wouldn’t have been necessary. His message of hope and unity was personified by we, his audience, and in that way he communicated on a level beyond words.

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Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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