So it turned out D had tickets to President-elect Obama's speech in Grant Park last night. I couldn't see Obama or even the screen, but I heard most of his speech clearly (and for me that's saying a lot!).
What amazed me the most was how polite everyone was. Cities are known to swallow up a person's humanity, and Chicago is no exception. You walk by the homeless guy without digging in your pocket for change, telling yourself you're going to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. And of course five minutes later you forget that promise. Preoccupied, you get on the train without first waiting for other passengers to exit. Indeed, most gatherings in Grant Park result in at least a few "F&%$ youse!"
Last night was different. A feeling of goodwill infused the crowd, and not once did someone move or bump into me without saying "Excuse me" or "I'm so sorry!" (I did the same.) No one fought. No one argued (that I could see) with police officers. Everyone was polite and respectful, smiling and happy. I saw two women embrace a tree in a playful acknowledgment of being "tree huggers."
This is the way it should be.
It's difficult to convey all the things I felt. Optimism for the first time in months. Awe at the number of people who attended the speech, and the way everyone treated each other. Mostly I just felt lucky to be this close to such an historic moment. It was beyond cool.
Yeah, I'm an Obama supporter. You can think I drank the Kool Aid if you want.
But it's not Barack Obama's words ringing in my ears this morning, but those of Kyle Cassidy, words which convey—I hope—the sentiment of our time, and words I don't think you can argue with no matter which side of the fence you reside on:
Be a force for good.