Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Are All Americans Today

Those were the words that ran through my head last night as the Harvard Democrats election night party literally exploded at 11:00 p.m. EST when CNN declared Barack Obama would be the 44th President of the United States of America. Many of you will remember that phrase from a much darker day some seven years ago, when the front page of Le Monde on September 12, 2001 read "Nous sommes tous Américains".

We spent a good portion of both my ethics and international relations classes today talking about people's reactions to the election. Time and time again the idea came up that irrespective of how successful Obama is as a President, the very notion that he could become President has restored the world's belief in the ideal of a progressive and liberal society (small p and small l) where your starting point in life does not dictate your ending point and that you can in fact achieve anything.

As I looked around the packed room last night and saw my friends and colleagues, both Americans and those from every corner of the globe, embracing and high-fiving (and the occasional fist bump thrown in for good measure), some with tears in their eyes, all with exuberance in their voices, my faith in the idea of a common humanity was restored. In America's darkest day and most brilliant evening of my lifetime, I saw the world embrace to first mourn together and then to celebrate together and make the profound statement that in the end, what divides us is much less than what unites us.