On election night, I expressed a mixture of joy, caution, and fear of unrealistic expectations. After I went to sleep, a strange thing happened. I woke up at with a curious question in my mind: Has there ever been, at any time in history, a situation in which a new national leader, who was visibly of a different ethnic background, been put into office without a recent process of bloodshed or military violence?

It seemed to me that this was not merely an unusual occurrence, such as when the New York Jets won the Super Bowl, but a phenomenon that was totally uncharacteristic of the species Homo Sapiens.

I then wondered why this was not my initial reaction. I concluded that it was because I had actually taken the possibility of an Obama victory for granted. It then dawned on me that we, as a country, had something to truly be proud of. It was an indication of concrete progress toward becoming civilized.

By that, I mean we have, for the moment, demonstrated the ability to overcome our most basic human instincts. We have long had the ability to think noble thoughts, but our ability to do noble deeds has been less impressive. Is it possible that this is evidence that the process of human evolution continues in a positive direction? I would like to think so.

The next day, someone brought to my attention that, apparently, the
U.S. government overthrew the Hawaiian Royal Family without bloodshed. Somehow, though, I just couldn’t feel the same pride.

Ralph H. Lee

Oak Park


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