I work at a local Y, in the fitness center, am a fitness coach, (and no, I haven't been working out lately, sigh.) We have a diverse membership, from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicity, families, seniors, teens, a really nice mix of people.
We also have, in our area, a rather large group of fundamentalists, yes, here in blue San Jose, and today, today I ended up having a conversation with two of them.
One of them I knew, and she is pretty conservative, but I had never met the other person who was standing next to her. I can't remember how we got on the topic of Obama, but we did.
Immediately the two women exclaimed that Obama was not a citizen, he was hiding his birth certificate and he was a muslim. Nothing new here, but truthfully a bit surprising to me in our area.
I did tell both women that the birth certificate was online, and that Obama was not a muslim, and I also stated his religion shouldn't matter anyway. I also told them that the reason these things are spread is because the smear appeals to the prejudice and hate within ourselves.
After such a high last night, today was a reminder of just what we all face, what we must do for Obama, and that we cannot, we must not, no matter where or how, we cannot stand aside and let these things go unanswered. If Obama can bring us hope, if he can make us the promise of working for a better tomorrow, we must also make a promise to him that we will not stand by and let these smears go unanswered.
My conversation with one of the women continued outside the hallway where the Ayers issue came up. I told her Obama was 8 when that happened, and quickly told her that when Obama met Ayers they were both working to help folks in Chicago who had been laid off.
Then I asked her if she knew what or where I had been 15 years ago. She had no clue, but she said it didn't matter, she liked me and that wouldn't change her opinion of me. I said what if I had been in prison? What if I had been a drug addict? She still said it wouldn't matter, and then I told her that, that was the type of relationship that Obama had with Ayers.
As she is anti abortion I also ended our conversation with this, explaining to her that while she and I disagree on abortion, can't we come together to stop unwanted pregnancies? That she and I were being divided not by just our belief, but those who continue to use abortion as a wedge issue, those who know that the pro birth folks are reliable voters for one party only. I also, firmly and with no hesitation told her that I do not, would not, ever tell her anything which I was not sure had been verified as the truth by fact.
She most likely will not vote Obama, but at the very least if I stopped her from repeating these lies then I accomplished at least one thing.
So do not lay back and laugh at McCain's pick for Vice President, she is there for a reason, to appease those who first elected Bush, do not kid yourself that things are so different this time, because this race has just started and we have barely left the gate.
All the same problems exist of the last two elections, machines that do not properly record votes, voters being knocked off of the voter rolls, all this is still there. And our candidate, our nominee, is counting on us, to be there for him, to say enough, and to speak up when lies are told and Obama is smeared.
Last night I was inspired, and I was given a promise of hope by Obama, tonight I give a promise back to Obama, I have you covered, I will not cower and just stand back when I hear these iies, I will not respond in anger, but with the conviction of truth and honesty.
If last night meant anything at all, it meant that Obama cannot do this alone, and our promise for a better tomorrow cannot be carried solely by Obama, we must be where he cannot be, and be there each step of the way.