A Better World

On this day before the election, there’s plenty of anxiety in the chilly, darker just-fell-back air. Four years ago, in my little progressive enclave, we were terrified—and deeply, elatedly hopeful. We were giddy on hope, punch drunk.

It’s not like that, four years later a week after Sandy. It’s a more solemn, even disappointed anxious in the air. Many people seem to think dread is spurring them to vote rather than hope.

For the record, I still feel hope.

My list of things that have happened during Obama’s first term—things he and Vice-President Biden have helped to happen—is actually long. From the vegetables on the lawn on out, the White House feels more like the People’s house than it did before this First Family moved in. I know this is the case for every African American child able to picture him or herself in the White House.

Change isn’t instant or perfect or uncomplicated or unencumbered in ways that make it feel sometimes icky or corrupted. I get it. I’m not naïve nor do I have blinders. But even with all of that I am genuinely hopeful. I will be thrilled to draw my invisible ink line between those words Obama and President of the United States. I’ll be thrilled to do the same for Elizabeth Warren, a woman who would not be on the ballot (it seems to me) if not for our President.

Yesterday, I did not phone bank or hold a sign. I sang. In a room with other hopeful people—and plenty of exuberant, wiggly, energetic children, very much my youngest fit that description—I lifted my hopelessly off-key voice and sang—for freedom and peace, for justice and democracy, for this country and the world. I sang for and with hope. I left all that singing—co-led by the Nields and the couple that compiled the legendary songbook Rise Up Singing—feeling more rooted in my hope and less like a dry leaf swirled in anxious air.

My daughter won’t remember that she sang in some sort of support for hope, but she had fun and eventually may just have imprinted in her psyche folk music equals good fun. My pal, Ione, is cutting her teeth on hope. If you can vote, I say vote with your hope rather than your fear; if for no other reason, it feels better.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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