This is not a particularly inspiring time in our nation's history. We have two of the most uninspiring candidates to ever appear at the top of the ballot. The level of vitriol, suspicion, and general distrust seem to be at an all time high. Good news of any kind, like the recent World Series victory of the Chicago Cubs, comes as an all too rare refreshing tonic (and in that case, it was more of a bitter cup for the Indians fans).
And yet in the midst of all of this there are those that have inspired me. And here's the interesting thing: They come from across the political spectrum. This will come as a shock to some, but even among my strongly partisan friends with whom I find myself completely disagreeing and utterly baffled by, there are those who inspire me yet.
There are those on the right, those who feel that America needs a radical reset. My high school friends Heather and Jerry Rice come to mind. They inspire me because despite their passionate views, they are committed to accepting everyone, even those with whom they disagree. Heather and Jerry, as you know I don't really get it. . . I think you are really wrong on this one. But I get you, and I know I'll still be welcome in your home no matter what things look like on November 9.
There are those who inspire me because they clearly articulate a point of view I often share. These people are champions of the progressive cause, and the articles they share and comment on enlighten and encourage me. There's college friend Crister Delacruz, whose steady stream of shares carping about Trump and his "Trumpers" I will sorely miss after next week. And there's my cousin Dee Johnson, who always keeps me woke with his acerbic take on the mess we humans have made. These two and others like them have been a regular source of inspiration throughout this election cycle.
And I especially appreciate those who are able to see contentious issues in fresh ways, those whose stance on the political battlefield is a little harder to identify. They don't seem to buy either party line, at least not wholesale. They are independent thinkers and often it's what that they see and say that is most accurate and most incisive. Another friend from high school Rey Descalso, and one of my closest friends since high school, J Micheal Carlos have inspired me in this way.
And then there's the unexpected undecided. I was talking to our maintanence/janitoral services man after school the other day, a wise gracious, kind-hearted gentleman who shared with me that with less than a week to go before the election he was truly undecided. The crowd I run with--it's essentially a given that everyone is anti-Trump. I mean what reasonable black person would even consider voting for him, right? Wrong. Talking with Mr. Russell forced me to question every assumption I'd had about those who didn't see Clinton is the obvious and only choice. I found that inspiring.
There are others that have inspired me in the way these seven have, but these were the ones that immediately came to mind, and who represent,I think, a lot more people than we are inclined to believe are out there. There are those that insist people's political leanings are an indication of their character, of their heart. But I have Heather, Jerry, Crister, Dee, Rey, J, Mr. Russell, and many more who prove otherwise. Whether they realize it or not, they are better together--and they make our country better too.