A few days ago, I mentioned that Barack Obama was on the cover of Time magazine, and that I was looking forward to reading the article. It was indeed interesting, with some nice poll results and quotes. For example, one poll of likely Iowa voters found 31% feeling that he was the most honest Democratic candidate, twice the number who felt Clinton is, and three-quarters felt he was candid in his comments. That's probably the main thing I find appealing about him--he isn't afraid to tell people what they don't want to hear, instead of making empty promises and pandering. He assumes that people are intelligent enough to learn about and understand the issues.
However, the more interesting article to me was a viewpoint written by Shelby Steele, who was also born to a white mother and a black father. He writes about struggling to find an identity--white or black? I wonder how many times the author and Obama were told to "keep with their own kind," only to wonder what exactly that was?
This raises a greater issue to me: our propensity for defining a person by their race, gender, or religion. All three issues (or non-issues, as far as I'm concerned) are being raised in this campaign. I've heard people say they won't vote for Clinton because she's a woman. I've heard others say they won't vote for Romney because he's a Mormon, or Huckabee because he's a Baptist. Still others won't vote for Obama because he's black, and they often go on to ridicule his name.
Are we that ignorant and narrow-minded? Are we unable to see the big picture? Are we so judgmental that we condemn someone merely because of the way they look or because they have a "funny" name? Apparently so, and I think that's just sad. I've always felt that America was a bigger country than that, and that Americans were open to other experiences, other cultures, and other ways of life, rather than being mired in our own personal experience--which in the larger scheme of things is a very tiny corner of the world. Or maybe I've just always hoped for that, and it's never really been that way. Silly me for expecting better from people.
I will continue to appreciate those who are able and willing to look beneath the surface and see the true measure of a man, or of a woman. Those are the people that can see the path we need to follow, and the direction in which we need to go. Those are the people whose ideals and vision have written our history, and will shape what we can--and should--be in the future: a better world for everyone.