For the first time in a long time, I am hopeful about the future. And given the physical and emotional ups and downs of the last year and a half, that is saying an awful lot!
And I’ve been trying to figure out why my generation (20-somethings) is so affected by the current political climate. And then I think about what my parents and grandparents have lived through – they have seen and been at the forefront of many important changes that this country has seen over the past half-century.
But I can’t say the same for myself. Sure, I was 16 when September 11th occurred and that profoundly affected my views on the world. But in a world where strife and hardship are a daily occurrence, I don’t feel like there has been any movement away from that.
And Barak Obama highlighted this historical trajectory in his victory speech (which you can read via NPR) early this morning – “A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination” – and it is this technological revolution, which has probably been the greatest change of my generation, which helped Barak Obama win the election (see BBC story about Internet strategy and the primaries). And it is that same technology that helps us advocate for people who are chronically ill everyday.
No matter what minority group you are a member of, even those that have yet to be spoken for, it is us, the everyday people, that have the ability to make change happen in America.
In a world where we daily fight for a shred of recognition, where some of us live in constant pain, without health insurance, people that don’t always understand us, doctors that speak another language, cures that don’t come fast enough or that are worse than the diseases themselves, by telling our stories and supporting each other, we set the stage so that change truly can occur.
I was thinking back to my parents growing up during the 1960s and the influences of that time that they have injected into my family. And the first thing I thought of was folk music. I think of songs, like “The Times They Are A Changin’” by Bob Dylan, which 35 years after it was originally written, holds as much meaning and promise as it did then:
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
If you don’t know all of the words of the song, I strongly suggest you read them here.
And so it is not only the outcome of yesterday’s election that gives me hope. Everyday I have hope because of all of the people that I have been able to meet in the chronic illness community; people who support each other and who give each other hope that tomorrow can be better than today.
So no matter what your political affiliation is, we all have the power to create change.