I have tried to teach my children that anything is possible. That regardless of one’s background, race, religion, ethnicity, looks or orientation nothing is beyond reach. In short, I have tried to teach my children about the promise that America holds — one of those “things” that sets us apart and above other nations and great societies. “Only in America”, people say when something miraculous happens . . . “Only in America”, they (the they that always seem to know just what to say at any given moment) exclaim when someone rises above their circumstances and accomplishes great things. “Only in America”. Yet, in many ways we are hypocrites and have been so arrogantly. We invade a country and then tell other nations that cannot or must not do so. We emit greenhouse gases but complain when others do so as well. We demand that human rights are honored abroad but then sanction invasions of privacy here that would make our collective blood boil were they occur elsewhere. And the worst of all . . . the false promise to a portion of our society that they could be anything . . . even President, but then continue to shun anyone other than white men who vie for the position. While I am not black and cannot know what it is like to be, I have lived with the idea that it would difficult for one of my own kind (Jewish) to become our leader.
Wednesday morning, I awoke with a different feeling. To see people black and white, red and yellow, old and young, Jewish and Christian celebrating, some in the streets, over the election of Barack Obama was a sight I will never forget and one that to this moment makes me smile, as I am doing so now just thinking about it. For once, we as a people and nation put our money where our mouth is. I could see and feel genuine pleasure on the faces of African-Americans, some on television and some in my immediate vicinity. They were . . . happy. Relieved. Proud. It is a feeling that we all deserve to experience. It is a feeling of satisfaction. It is a feeling like when makes a promise and to your surprise they keep it.
One of my mentors and dear friends, Steve Fishman, the great trial attorney and sports sage, called it the greatest moment in his lifetime. I haven’t lived as long as Steve nor experienced as much but the grandeur of the moment is not lost on me. Good for you, President-Elect Obama. Great for you, America.