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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

Change and the Hope of Possibility

Great things happened this past week. The Affordable Care Act was upheld, gay marriage became a legal right, and the community of Charleston, South Carolina taught us about the power of forgiveness, Grace and unity.

In recent years, I have grown cynical. Never in my lifetime have I seen a President of the United States treated with such disrespect, a thinly veiled and ancient cancer of racism alive and well in Washington and modeled for the rest of the country.

I will never forget the image of Governor Jan Brewster sticking her finger in the President’s face. Whether you agree with President Obama’s policies or not, the rudeness and the ugliness demonstrated by so many in government has been a disgusting display. And our leaders do, in that regard, hold some culpability for what happened in Charleston.

Mr. Mitch McConnell did not care about serving the people, which he was elected to do. Instead he shared with us that his number one priority was to get rid of the black man in the White House. That remains the lowest point of his legislative career. And let us not forget that just recently Ted Cruz was heard to remark (on tape) that there was a “n*gg*er in the White House.” But yesterday, the sun came out and the Mitch McConnell’s and the Ted Cruz’s of the world seemed sadly out of touch, and moreover, insignificant.

For those who watched the President unite a grieving country as he eulogized Reverend Pinkney, was to bear witness to the greatness of a man and the greatness of a nation ready to move forward and evolve.

As the tragic event in Charleston, a full frontal ugliness of racism that sought to divide unfolded, the black community most deeply effected by a young man’s evil act, showed us a dignity of spirit, and a Grace of faith unsurpassed. And you had to be numb or stupid not to be moved by what these individuals taught us as one by one they stood in the light of their truth and uttered the words “I forgive you.” In an instant, leaders from that area of the country led by taking down the Confederate flag, a long time symbol of slavery.

Against this backdrop, the Affordable Care Act took root thanks to a Supreme Court who did their job. This is a cumbersome law, granted, economically unsustainable in its current form. Yet as its roots strengthen, this piece of legislation has the potential to morph and change into a health care system that is less about profit and more about humanity. This law planted the seeds of health care reformation so that one day profits will not be built upon the backs of the sick and injured. Just as President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights act of the 1960’s had few teeth in its beginning, its results showed this week in Charleston where a black President comforted a nation and a black church that has had more than its share of attack, demonstrated to the entire country what it is to be decent and good.

While the President spoke of equality for all people in his eulogy, the Supreme Court again acted correctly by making legal marriage for gay people the law of the land. It was a week about equality. It was a week about freedom. It was a week about the power of love and it was a week that cracked the armor of hearts and minds gown cynical by a court that in the recent past corrupted our democracy with its definition of “speech as money” and “corporations as people.” Maybe now as we drink in these past few days, we will find the strength and the voice to undo Citizen’s United and continue to make strides back to the intention of “a government of the people, for the people and by the people.”

The take-away from this week’s news cycle is this: Love is stronger than fear and forgiveness is uniting. All people, regardless of color, sexual orientation, financial status, or political leanings, are at their core, as Anne Frank once wrote, “basically good.” I feel blessed to have remembered that this past week. For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful. And in hope there is possibility.

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