Friday, November 7, 2008

The conspiracy of affection

A co-worker said to me today that she didn't understand why other nations were excited about Obama's election. She didn't understand, either, why Oprah was 'hanging' on some random stranger during Obama's acceptance speech. She just didn't get it, didn't trust it. From my personal experience with her, I knew not to be surprised by her reaction. There was and is a significant absence of affection in her childhood and her present relationship. Now, I adore this woman. I think she is incredibly well spoken, articulate and criminally intelligent. However, this distrustful attitude is something I can't understand, not wholly.

You see, I come from a typical Southern family, which entails the stereotypes I'm sure some of you are thinking on, the good and the bad. My mother kissed me every night and told me she loved me every day. So did my father. So did my siblings. We do that still. There was never an absence of comfort in our home, well, for the children anyway. We went to church every Sunday and I still see my mother and sister every week and talk to them several times a week.

We're Southern. We hug strangers, we kiss our friends when we see them or when we leave them. We hug and cuddle and laugh too loud. It’s what we do. Generally, we don't meet a stranger.

I understand that this is not the way of things for everyone. I understand that some weren't fortunate enough to be raised in an affectionate home, that some still find, as adults, it difficult to receive or return affection. I'm not one of those people, so for me, I never found other nation's reactions to the election or Oprah's affectionate nature suspect. (She is, after all, Southern raised. ;P)

I took it for what it was: an excitement bubbling across the globe. It was the air of hope funneling over oceans and dipping into the collective consciousness of people in other nations. People who speak with different languages, whose faces reflect their national ethnicity and whose Gods may not be mine, were infected by the wind of change; the possibility of a positive, hopeful future.

Oprah leaned on her fellow man, because she was affected by this same wind; because she was overcome by the emotion of the night, by the victory of hope. I've experienced that. I've been at church or at a game and my team has won, my spirit has been elevated by happiness and as a result, I embraced strangers, laughed with others whose names I did not know, whose faces are blurred in my memory.

There is no conspiracy to it. Other nations are happy because, I believe, they are rooting for us. They want to see America thrive. They want to see us grow and evolve. I don't think, as my co-worker suggested, that it is a conspiracy; that for some nations, the election of a new president means a lapse in security, means that we will walk over our own citizens in need to help those in other countries. I don't believe this conspiracy exists. I think it is all simply a result of the potential we all hope will come.

Just to think on:

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

“If we treated everyone we meet with the same affection we bestow upon our favorite cat, they, too, would purr.”

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