My latest assignment has the family and I temporarily stationed in the upper Midwest, where I am directing a fund raising project to retire a client’s multi-million-dollar debt load. Where have we landed? Of all places and all times, right in the heart of the national media spotlight: Madison, Wisconsin. Sitting here in our hotel suite, I can actually see the state capitol building from my window, where so many hundreds of thousands have been gathering for protests.
Last night, Joyce and I drove down State Street and through the University of Wisconsin campus, parking just a few feet from the capitol building. With our oldest son in tow, we got up close and personal with all of the activity, standing in the crowd of protesters, walking the sidewalks alongside the marches, and observing satellite trucks from just about every news outlet, both domestic and international.
Our six-year-old, Lukas, was a bit hesitant to venture into the crowd, full of guards and police officers, but he got up the nerve; and we were able to take in some of the speeches and much of the sentiment.
I’m not informed enough to have any strong opinions on the issues being debated. But I did have a strong emotional reaction to my experience last night: I was absolutely exhilarated by the whole thing. As I expressed to my wife and son, I am thrilled to see the news in Madison the same way I was thrilled to see the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. Nothing to do with issues, politics, philosophies, or viewpoints… But everything to do with the spirit of possibility and the spirit of freedom that so defines America.
As I am deeply proud, even overjoyed, that an African-American man can possess the highest office of the land, so do I swell with pride that in my country those who perceive injustice can march on the capitol, can air their grievances, can shout and picket and insist that leadership act equitably.
How awesome. How profoundly American.
As I told Lukas, this is exactly how our country was founded: By the country’s people rising up and demanding perceived justice from their leaders. This is exactly what is forbidden in Libya. The legal protection of these actions, the freedom of expression, the liberty to cry out and even effect change… These are the very elements that released us to become the country we are. It matters not to me what the issues are, whether I share perspectives with these people There is something so glorious in seeing voices cry out with little fear of repercussions.
It’s great to be here, to taste even a part of Madison for this little window of time.