A friend, Laurie Adams, who was my roommate in Malawi last year, has taken a few weeks out of her life to go volunteer in Colorado for the Obama campaign. Her group letter was so inspiring and humbling that I asked her permission to reprint it here.
As some of you know, I arrived here in Littleton, CO last week to volunteer for the Obama campaign through election day. As I sit in the home of my host family this morning, preparing for a day at the Obama headquarters down the street, it felt important to share some of this remarkable experience with my friends, and to ask for your prayers/ good thoughts/intentions for this country as we head into the final days before the election. I am both hopeful and afraid, and I would appreciate knowing that I am surrounded by all of you, bringing your calm, loving, peaceful energy into this crazy time. I also know that many of you have been contributing in so many ways, and that these experiences are among many shared by friends and family.
If you don’t already know, this election campaign is being run on the energy of thousands and thousands of volunteers (1400 from Texas alone are dispersed throughout the US right now); these volunteers are both local and national and represent every kind of diversity you can imagine – veterans, Republicans, Independents, straight, gay, African Americans, Latinos, and everything else in between, 18 yr olds, 20 somethings and 80 somethings, kids with their parents and parents who’ve left their kids with spouses. All of this is true even in very suburban Littleton. There is a woman in our office from Texas who has left her two little girls twice for weeks at a time to volunteer in Pennsylvania and now here. There is a woman in her 60’s here from Liverpool, England. There is a man here from Littleton whose wife died 5 months ago who had not left his house until he decided to volunteer with this campaign. He arrives each day in his wheel chair
and makes hours of phone calls. On Sunday I took him, wheel chair in tow, to the Obama rally in Denver. We were 20 ft behind Obama with a crowd of 100,000 +. I have met a lot of people who are for the first time in their lives not voting Republican, or they are voting differently from their family for the first time.
I’ve heard a lot of us say how we believe and feel that we are not simply working on a campaign to get someone elected, but that we are working to ensure that civil society endures in the US, for a the possibility of a future on this planet, or using the words of Joanna Macy, working for the “Great Turning” – a time of returning to life, with each other, with the earth. We know that electing Obama is the next necessary step. When I was traveling here, I kept getting teary, and I felt like I was joining a corp of patriots, living out a civic duty to help in a small way sustain democracy in the US – not because our elections are a great representation of democracy, but because people organizing to share information, house by house, to make sure we vote and our votes count, is. As my friend Sue here said, if the military families can sacrifice for years on end, then the least we can do is show up for a few weeks.
Obama has already demonstrated without a doubt that he has the capacity to inspire and bring a diverse people together for a common cause who have learned to work efficiently and effectively as grassroots organizers. It is clear now that this is one of the most powerful potential outcomes of his leadership in a world where we are all going to have to get on board 100% to continue to live on this planet in a decent, peaceable and sustainable way.
The last half of his message to us on Sunday focused on this. Obama’s energy was amazing Sunday -- he is a beautiful man whose presence and smile are real and full of life. Two young men behind me said admiringly, as he jogged up the stage , “He’s the fuckin’ MAN!” I totally agree. And I was very grateful for all the secret service who were in front, above, and around us, trying to keep him safe.
I am writing this to you now because, in the midst of one of the most vicious political weeks I’ve experienced, I hope everyone can still feel a little of what this election should be about, and is about, among the people who are working for and voting for an Obama/Biden ticket. Out here in highly Republican Jefferson County, it is easy for me to feel overwhelmed at this point by the cynicism and negativity, the racism, and lies that are informing a lot of people’s decisions.
People’s yard signs get stolen each night, a woman told me to “go away . . . he is an evil, evil man.” College educated people admit, “but what if he really does have ties to Al Qaida?” I don’t know what it feels like other places, but I’m afraid that things are getting overwhelmingly bitter and mean (and potentially dangerous). And so I am also asking you to take some time each day for the next 6 days to offer a prayer or some silent intention, a chant, a
song, or whatever you have, for this country, for this world, and for everyone to stay SANE, to stay calm, to have open hearts and courage. I want to feel the power of caring love is stronger out there than the power of fear and self-interest. Please.