This I Believe

Amber - Arlington, Texas
Entered on November 6, 2008

Be Not Afraid

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

I’ve heard a lot of people say they are scared and fearful because our next president will be Barack Obama. Whether McCain or Obama won, I can honestly say that I would have felt and currently feel and face the same fear. It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s the fear of something we have not yet experienced. It’s feeling out of control and not knowing what to expect. It’s the fear of wondering if we’ve made the right choice.

On election night, as I watched the president–my president and yours–make his first speech as our new leader, I felt fear. Seeing him surrounded by bullet-proof glass somehow stole a bit of my joy. I worried and said a prayer for him and his family. After all beneath it all, he is just a husband and a father. As an American and as a mother and wife, imagining that there are eminent threats against his life makes me sad.

Don’t get me wrong. I felt joy too. What an historic moment! Regardless of who you voted for, seeing an African-American win the nation’s highest office was indeed a defining moment in our history. I am a mother of bi-racial children–half white, half Indian. Sometimes I worry about their futures. What kind of world will be waiting for them? Will they be loved and accepted despite the color of their skin? Or will they be pushed aside or hurt because they don’t belong to one group or the other. People all over the world—African-American, Hispanic, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Native American and me, the mother of three bi-racial children, took a collective sigh as we saw Barack Obama on our television screens. It was validation that hope for all mankind is alive and well. It’s not a perfect road that is without danger and sacrifice, but indeed the road has been cut and change is on the move.

In the days following the election, I have been disappointed because a lot of Democrats are gloating and a lot of Republicans are moping. Come on! Stop it! The campaign is over, and we all have a lot of work to do!

Your neighbor is losing his home because the job where he works had to downsize.

Your sister has breast cancer and can’t afford to pay her medical bills.

A kid in your child’s class is about to sent to his third foster home.

The social security money that your grandparents are counting on is not certain any longer.

Your friend’s son is fighting in Iraq, and he won’t be home for Christmas.

Your uncle’s 401K has fallen so low that he is going to forced to work for 3 more years instead of enjoy his retirement.

Children that live in your community are going to bed tonight with bellies full of hunger.

The high school in your neighborhood is violent and lacking basic resources leading to poor test scores and high dropout rates.

Stop worrying about who won and who lost and find where you can plug in. Stay involved in the political process. Get involved in your community. Be your own watchdog and make sure your voice continues to be heard.

The truth is we all won. From the moment we breathed our first breath on American soil, we were winners. Nowhere else on earth do we have such opportunity and such promise as we do in the United States of America.

Be not afraid. Be bold. Be brave. Be powerful. Be helpful. Be respectful.

Volunteer for a non-profit.

Send a care package to a soldier.

Donate food to your local food pantry.

Call up and offer your support to your local politicians.

Start something. Do something. Be something.

We are all Americans, and we are all in this together. This isn’t just about a man; it’s about all of us.