Are you supposed to cry at the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical South Pacific?


So why did I get choked up through the last half hour?

Somehow, I had never actually seen it before – Charles was actually IN it in the sixth grade. He played “the Frenchman” and had this one line: “Non, non, Nellie – en Francais! en Francais!” But I saw it for the first time last week.

Besides the obvious romantic places where you’re supposed to get a little teary, I kept thinking back to my dad and his generation who went off to fight World War II . . . and that gets me thinking of ALL the epic struggles our forefathers and foremothers endured to get us where we are today . . . and how easy Charles and I have had it, and how amazingly blessed we are.

“Posterity, who are to reap the blessings,” wrote Abigail Adams to her beloved John, “will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors.”

Before you know it, I’m thinking of the Holocaust and of Schindler’s List. Of slavery and the movie Glory. Of Angels in America and all the friends we’ve lost to AIDS.

And I just feel I have lived such a long time, and so want to see the story – which could so easily spin out of control – turn out right.

And now comes this amazing President and First Lady, so committed to the best in all of us, such an inspiration to so many here at home and around the world, and I read Dreams from My Father – which in my case means listening to the President read his life story to me, on my iPod – and I feel as though we are living at an almost mythical, pivotal time.

Have you read that book? The story of his life up to 1995? Or, better still, have you listened to it as I did in his own voice?

When it ends, I nearly shut it off, but – just when I expected to hear, “Random House Audio hopes you have enjoyed this book” – up instead comes the sound of applause, and then thunderous applause, and I realized I was back in Boston in 2004, on the floor of the Convention, listening to “the speech.” An addendum.

What a journey this has been – and what a journey it still needs to be.

And yes, of course, this is sappy. I don’t dispute that. But isn’t every word of it true? Isn’t the country – and for that matter, the species – in really serious straits? And don’t we have a President who sees the need to transform and renew our economy and rejoin, and once again lead, the community of nations?

So now he asks us to help him, because it’s hard – tellingly, on something as simple as appropriating $81 million to move Guantanamo prisoners to stateside Supermax facilities from which no prisoner has ever escaped, he got just 6 of 99 votes – and in answering that call we are given the opportunity to be part of the solution, to make the world better for those who follow us, to honor the memories of those who went before us, and, perhaps, to give our own lives greater meaning.

Our good friends on the other side are outraising us.

For them, it’s an investment in lower taxes . . . they take PAC and lobbyist money, we don’t . . . none of them think their work is done, where many of us think ours IS done – we won.

But that’s the point. Winning just got us the job. Now we have to DO the job. And not everyone wants to see it done. Indeed, some of our friends on the other side own large monkey wrenches. Which is why we are asked to fund OFA – Organizing for America, the DNC’s central project – to organize hundreds of thousands of neighborhood advocates to help move the President’s agenda, spread the word, push back on misinformation, and encourage sometimes-wavering Senators and Representatives to step up to the plate.

Many of us wish we could do more – make the policy, write the speeches, wield a magic wand. (I have always wanted to be able to levitate.) But as prosaic as it is, wielding a credit card is the most sacrifice most of us are called upon to make.

If you are in a position to help, that would be great. All we need is your credit card. If you are down to your last $125, see South Pacific instead. If you don’t have $125, watch the ABC Special I’ve been pushing, “Earth 2100,” that suggests this may be the final century for human civilization – we really do need to get an awful lot of things right, in a hurry – and then spread the word. After 5 billion years of evolution (a scientific theory this White House accepts), it really does come down to the next few decades.

If you do click the link to contribute, I have it rigged to let me know so I can say thanks.


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