The Good Kind of History
Submitted by ohboys
History comes at you at different speeds. The bad kind usually sneaks up on you and thwacks you behind the knees, knocking you flat. Bad history is the stuff you never saw coming—it's the Towers falling, the space shuttle exploding, the president being shot.
When bad history knocks us flat, we hunker down, huddle on the couch with the family, stare at the television and just try to absorb the shock. The bad stuff has a way of bringing the country together—but it's a sorrowful time—with shock and confusion and sadness.
But good history, that seems to come at us from a distance, and so slowly. You can sort of hear its rumblings for a long time before it arrives, but you're not sure if it's just an echo or if it's actually getting closer. And sometimes you'll even get a tantalizing glimpse of it, only for it to disappear.
But then comes a time when it starts to seem real, and you see it all around, you hear the rumblings growing louder, but you still wonder: Is this real, will this be the day?
This history—the election of our first black president—that arrived on Nov. 4, 2008 started building in the 1960s, but it took such a long, winding, violent, sad road to get here. There were riots and bussing and assassinations and Rodney King and OJ Simpson to get through.
Remember Martin Luther King's speech about his dream for this country: "I may not get there with you," he said, and he didn't, but it's amazing the faith he had that we would. We had so many diversions along the way, and so much bad history to get through.
But when it finally lands, this good history overwhelms. It takes a while, but it seeps in and it grabs every cell of your body. It doesn't slam you to the ground, but it makes you sink slowly to your knees. Because even though you sort of saw it coming, you're still totally unprepared for how it can envelop you.
With the good history, there's no huddling on the couch. The good history makes you bolt from your seat; it sends you into the streets dancing and yelling and shouting hello to total strangers.
And I also found out this week that this good history can sneak up on you and make you weep at the oddest times—like when you're watching The View or Oprah, or when you see pictures of people of all shapes, ages and colors cheering for this day, and for the arrival of this historic moment—at last!