“And I am bent with a great sadness . . .” – Pindar
I wanted to post a tribute to a man I don’t know. His name is Dave. I never met him. But at a forum at our college in the wake of the election a few weeks ago he had the courage to speak up, and I wanted to write down a summation of his remarks before it receded any further in memory. Of all the people at the meeting, including the students and professors, his brief comments were the most moving.
He first introduced himself by only his first name. I am new to the college, relatively speaking, and I had the distinct impression that most knew him and that he had been affiliated with the college for a good while. He was of medium stature, with a well trimmed but somewhat grizzled beard that was going white, so he was very likely my age – maybe a little older, maybe a little younger.
His words were simple. He was just deeply sad, he said. Deeply sad because he had come from a family of bigots. He had worked hard over the years to divest himself of the prejudices his family had instilled in him. He was proud of his vote for Obama in ’08 and again in ’12.
He thought that his country, as was the case with his own situation and sentiments, had moved forward, had progressed. He was, he recognized, wrong. And for him that was horribly sad, and he himself, he said, just felt sad for the country that could not grow as he had.
I am with you Dave. I also grew up in a household with less than enlightened attitudes towards race.
Dave ended his remarks by simply noting that he had done the hard work of moving past such pernicious notions about race, thought the country was with him, and that the country had let him – not to mention itself and all of us – down, and that he felt that what the country had done was very sad. Hearing him bear witness was one of the most awful moments for me in an awful year. So tonight let’s lift a glass or three to Dave, and his sadness.
You have a good deal of fellowship my friend, whoever you might be and wherever this finds you. I wish you well.