God bless you.
For me, this was a week of tears. It started with me crying over my perfect storm of
sicknesses that have converged on me in the forms of end-stage congestive heart failure,
brain cancer, prostate cancer, an abdominal hernia, a pinched nerve along my spinal
column and a possible herniated disc in my back.
It continued during the week when the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver
reminded us all of the sickening condition that our nation is in. Then my voracious hunger
for my personal healing gave way to an even stronger hunger for the healing of America.
And, yes, tears flowed again.
I cried during the masterful speech of Michelle Obama. She set the record straight
by recounting the family histories of her and her husband, Barack, assuring us that they
are perhaps the greatest American story in the making. Two individuals, straight up from
America's common stock of hard-working, God-believing, determined parents--this
couple, longtime dedicated to serving the downtrodden, now stands on the threshold of
holding our nation's highest office of leadership.
I cried seeing our fellow cancer warrior, Ted Kennedy, get out of his sick bed and
come before the convention to serve notice that he not only is battle-tested but
remains battle-ready for the fight to restore America to the great internal prosperity,
tranquility, equality and promise that we were enjoying under President Bill Clinton.
Kennedy radiated a happy smile and a vibrant voice and demeanor void of any hint of the
serious surgery he underwent in June to address his brain cancer.
I cried at the outstanding speech by Hillary Clinton, the New York senator I was
hoping Barack would pick for his running mate for the sake of party unity. They would have
forged a political dream team that, I feel, would stand an even better chance to beating
the Republican alternative overwhelmingly. It had to the be the best speech--certainly the
most important--that she ever gave in her life. I did not appreciate the fiercely adversarial
campaign she and her staff ran against Obama. It's said that all's fair in love and political
campaigns. That's right for love. But I believe there are limits in a political campaign that
also is supposed to be forging party and national unity. Still, I would have loved to see
double precedents heading the Democratic ticket.
I cried when I saw Bill Clinton use his outstanding speech to regain some of his
credibility. His pluses still far outnumber his minuses. I regret he could not have run for a
third term. Sure, the Monica Lewinsky scandal would have been strong ammunition for
the Republicans to use against him. But I believe he still would have beaten Bush.
Clinton has to be one of the most intelligent, most eloquent and most productive
Presidents America has ever had.
Finally, I cried when it became official that Obama is the first black Presidential
candidate for a major political party. Then on Thursday night, the 45th anniversary of
St. (yes, I deem him a martyred saint) Dr. Martin Luther King's epochal "I Have A Dream"
speech, as Obama gave his acceptance speech, I felt no real urge to cry anymore except
for tears of joy knowing that I have witnessed and helped bring to pass something that I
never thought I would see in my lifetime and possibly even the lifetime of my children.
You see, I was there with Dr. King and some 250,000 other Civil Rights
demonstrators, when we marched on Washington, D.C., in 1963. As a member of the
Civil Rights delegation from Kansas City, Kan., I stool in a bunch clustered between
the reflection pool and the Abraham Lincoln monument as Dr. King thundered forth his
profound, poetic dream. I cried then, too, because I felt it was a pipe dream that I would
never see come true. I thought that I already had come a long way from a former, poor
Mississippi cotton picker to become a sophomore attending the University of Kansas
and attaining academic achievement to live in the university's coveted Battenfield
Scholarship Hall. But I also felt I'd never see King's dream fulfilled to this level.
What about you?
Are you pleasantly shocked, too, at Obama's success and what we all have a
chance to do to help him bring healing to our nation?
By the grace of God, the sacrifices of many Civil Rights fighters, the hard work of
many good congressmen of both parties, we have been put in a position now to save and
restore America to her former greatness. I am impressed with Obama, his power, his
conviction, his passion and his positive purpose--all exuded by his words, his voice and
his gestures. His was probably the best speech of all this week.
But as good and as qualified and as promising as Obama is to be our next President,
he can not do it alone. If he is to accomplish the healing he seeks for our America, that
healing must start with you and me. I see my sickness as a microcoism of the
macrocoism of America's miseries. Both are varied. Both need urgent, aggressive
attention. Both will also take time, hard work and great sacrifice.
You and I will be at our best when we are physically, spiritually, mentally, socially,
emotionally, economically and ecologically fit to quest for the best. We don't have to be
perfect. We don't have to be fully fit or almost fully fit. But we first have to be willing to help
our individual healing as a springboard toward America's broader healing.
Yes, let America's healing begin. Let it begin now. Let it begin here. And let it begin
with you and me. Let's bless God with our total attention, unbridled faith, full cooperation
and complete allegiance. For when America thus blesses God, He, in turn, will bless us.
He has already given us a formula that is foolproof and failsafe: "If my people, which are
called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their
wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven; I will forgive their sins and heal their land."
God bless you.