A couple of things I've been thinking about:
Firstly, hooray for Obama. I really never intended for this blog to have political content when it first began, what with my entire political adult consciousness being dominated by 8 years of a man whom I could outcount and outspell by the time I was a third trimester fetus. In those eight years we've become embroiled in a mismanaged, neverending war, and we've gone from having a surplus to basically becoming a subsidiary of China. Forgive me for preferring to do the crossword than trying to puzzle out what new, horrifically cavalier, authoritarian atrocity the front page might have in store.
Secondly, let's take a look at that word 'cavalier...' Bear with me for a sec. Now that we're on the other side of election night, I can begin to reflect on the message of the Obama campaign without having to overload my brain with images of singing puppies pooping rainbows in order to counteract the bleak scenario that a woman who doesn't know that Africa is a continent might end up in the most influential position in the world. Fhew. Onto cavalier.
It originated as the Latin caballarius (horseman,) and was later adopted as a negative title for royalists during the Engish Civil War. The royal in question is Charles I, who decided that despite economic turmoil, his real focus should be cutting off the ears of people who spoke out against required attendance policies for his super awesome High Anglican church. The protestants weren't pleased. Parliament wasn't pleased. The Scots were especially displeased. Apparently King Charles never saw Braveheart, because otherwise he might have kept his nose out of the badass, kilt-wearing, mofo north.
The Scottish rebellion set the stage for the English Civil War, which paved the way for a constitutional monarchy, whose parliament did not include representation for a handfull of pissed-off passionate patriots, and now a few centuries later here we stand in the USA instead of "West Britain" with absolutely no monarchy and a pretty nifty constitution. And I tell you this for two reasons. Firstly, legend has it that the first riot began in St Giles Cathedral when a minster who was reading from Charles's fancy new required-prayer-book for the first time was lobbed in the head by a stool. This stool was thrown by a merchant woman named Jenny Henry. She is reported to have thrown it while shouting "Deil colic the wame o’ ye, fause thief" which, for those of us who don't speak angry Scot, means "Devil cause you severe pain and flatulent distention of your abdomen, false thief..." Severe pain and flatulent distention? Geesh...see? I knew you you shouldn't mess with the Scottish.
This brings me to an interesting comment my good friend Michael made recently about a nasty case of gout. This gout incapacitated British parliamentarian William Pitt so much he was not able to protest the fateful Stamp Act which helped catalyze the Revolutionary War.
Now, of course we can trace back from all world-changing events to a million other small catalysts which each played integral roles because everything is connected. And you can't choose to get assassinated by the Black Hand or to get gout. But you can choose to throw a stool at someone cavalierly trying to take away your rights. Which is to say...
"Yes we can" is an exciting message of hope after what feels like endless unchecked tyranny. But when you think about it, the only reason this country exists in the first place is that "yes, we did." We did in 1775 and we've been doing ever since: emancipation proclamation, suffrage, civil rights... a whole bunch of Americans doing a whole bunch of good. And I don't point this out to diminish Obama's win, but rather to point out that despite the fact my generation has not lived through a major ideological revolution, despite the completely jaded cynicism adopted by many woebegone anti-Bushies, revolution is in our blood, and although we can't control a lot about the universe, we always have the power of taking a stand. (Or throwing a stool.)
Or, for that matter, performing a devastatingly satirical blow to a political candidate on national television. My father posits that comedienne extraordinaire Tina Fey played a key yet under-acknowledged role in bringing down Palin, and I think he's probably right. Just goes to show how far a little free speech can go.
For me, after experiencing many "holy shit...like, really?" moments over the past two days, all of these ideas have helped to make the whole Obama thing seem less surreal, to put it into context, to restore some of my theoretical confidence in the idea of freedom, freedom to write and believe and to make a difference, all without getting your ear cut off.