Every single year, a certain 4th grade teacher in a classroom in western Missouri has her students collaboratively re-draw the map of Missouri onto a wall. If you look closely, you can see the pockmarks in the plaster. It's a fantastic activity. Inscribing our shared space on the wall makes it very clear just where we are and how we live in relation to each other. We are river people.
And rivers flow.
Speaking figuratively rather than geographically, I live in relation to a nephew who is an evangelical preacher. He is a staff evangelist in Texas. He also travels to places like Zimbabwe to preach and heal. My nephew believes that Obamacare "will kill 6,000,000 people in the womb using tax payer dollars." Of course for people like me, 6,000,000 is a loaded number. For this reason, I do not believe it is being used out-of-the-blue by people like my nephew. Apart from this, I of course do not share my nephew's belief. In fact, I believe that there are far fewer abortions when women have access to health care that includes contraception (which Obamacare makes possible). But this is also beside the point. My point is that because we are family, my nephew and I have now and then found ourselves in the same place, for instance at a wedding not all that long ago. He and I are both present on any map that is drawn of our family. We chat. We celebrate. We share the dance floor.
We go with the flow.
This is the age of the hybrid. Hybrid cars. Hybrid energy policies. Hybrid languages (Spanglish, Chinglish you name it!). Hybrid regional identities--part rural, part urban, part suburban, part small town. Hybrid families-- blended, reblended, re-arranged, redefined. Hybrid people. As Whitman wrote, we each of us "contain multitudes."
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less
and the good or bad I say of myself I say of them
A leader who can legitimately represent this country right now, who has the perspective to fully appreciate what it means to be part of more than one group, more than one community, more than one family, more than one economic class, more than one--yes!--racial or ethnic space, that is the leader we need.
We need someone who has grasped the flow and responded with prudent intelligence. What we do not need, what we should do everything we can to resist, is the kind of person who -- in the high-stakes moment -- will proudly, defiantly, with a smirk and a sneer, deliver a sequence of canned zingers.