Friday, November 14, 2008

An appeal from my mom

An email my mom sent last Monday to some friends and family who weren't sure they'd vote for Obama:

I know I am imposing on your privacy, but I will risk it because this is so important to me, to you and to our country.  Whether you have already voted or plan to do so today, you need to read what I and others are thinking when we support Barack Obama.  If he is so fortunate to win the presidency, I will not gloat, but simply be thankful that we will have a chance to mend America from the inside and begin to restore ourselves in the eyes of the rest of the world.  We have been so divided as a nation and lost the respect of many people around the globe.  As many now think, we are not people who care only about our own welfare and ignore others when they are having hard times.  Americans are much better than that.  Just witness how in our own family, we responded to the misfortune of the Iraqi man and his Iranian wife who are unjustly accused of helping terrorists.  Rick and Blackie, I also know that you and other businessmen have supported all sorts of public efforts as well as constantly helping in our own families.  Also, I still can’t believe how mother just gives and gives of her small pension to all the many solicitations that she receives even though we have told her that some of them are taking advantage of her.  Her response to that is “It gives me pleasure to help.”  And Americans, whatever their religious persuasion, give generously to those in need at home and in foreign countries.  I am in constant contact with US citizens, many of whom are missionaries, who have given their whole lives to providing health and education opportunities to people in far flung places. 

All of this is to tell you that I think Obama is someone who can bring Americans back to their core values of hard work, strong moral values and a shared commitment to our communities which now include not only our own neighborhoods, but the whole world.  Like it or not, instant communication, ease of travel, and interdependent economies have made us all neighbors.  Although we are often afraid of how those new “neighbors” behave, our only chance of getting along with them is to know them better and share with them the information and the resources to improve their lives.  This does not mean that we have to be Mother Teresa, but it does mean that we acknowledge that they exist and have the same needs to take care of their families needs and aspire to a better life in each generation.  It is when people give up hope and have little to lose that they cease to care about their own lives and mindlessly strike out.  Think about how our own families in just a few generations have made the best of their opportunities – largely because they had the luck to be in America where we have free education, good health care and a system of government that offers protection and justice.  I feel so incredibly lucky that my great grandparents migrated from Europe, took menial jobs (including Grandma Morrisey cleaning toilets), farmed, gained work in the civil service, worked at full times jobs and took part time work on the side, always stressed the importance of education, and generally scrimped and saved so that their children could have a better life than they had. 

My first vote in a presidential election was for John Kennedy and I was truly inspired.  But I have not been similarly stirred until now with the prospect of Obama being president.  Although I have given money and constantly sent information about him to others by email, I really wanted to feel that I had done everything I could to ensure that he would win the election.  So I stayed up until midnight yesterday in Kenya calling on Skype to 24 voters in Pennsylvania. Because we are eight hours behind, I had only a few hours of common calling time.  It was quite an education – some people hung up, and I communicated with a lot of answering machines, but I did talk to about a dozen people who were very serious about their voting.  Not all of them were supporting Obama, but in all cases it was clear that they were thoughtful and really cared about helping make America better for themselves and their families.  One very touching call was to a 73 year old woman named Willie Mae who was bed ridden and was very upset that she could not vote for Obama.  She said that someone had come to her house, but could not help her because it was too late to get an absentee ballot.  She somehow thought that she couldn’t have voted anyway because she had never learned to read or write.  I was so upset that I sent an email to Whit and my 30+ Americans (who live outside the US) list and asked them if they knew anyone in Pennsylvania who could help Willie Mae to vote.

This morning I received the two articles below from Whitney that further my commitment to an Obama presidency.  The first one especially sums up my hopes.

So, thanks for reading this.  I hope that I have not intruded too much on your privacy.


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