Who must “we” be?

| Staff Columnist

I’ve always enjoyed movie scenes in which a mob of sports fans, buzzing with jubilation, simultaneously rush the streets after their team wins a championship. I’m not sure whether this type of celebration actually ever happens in real life, but I’ve always hoped it does. Moreover, I’ve always wanted to be a part of the mob. Much to my dismay, however, growing up in a city completely without professional sports has prevented this dream from being realized.

The recent election could have afforded me an opportunity to no longer have to do without, or so I had hoped. I was in the library when CNN announced that Obama had won the presidency. After the announcement, unsurprisingly, I wasn’t really interested in doing work. I was stirred, and went out looking for the mob-style street celebration of my dreams. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much.

I was not, however, without some success. After driving the length and breadth of St. Louis looking for action, I came home to find a little bit of energy on the Loop. Among the most ardent individuals I came across was an elderly African-American woman incessantly shouting, “We did it!” And although she seemed pretty convinced that somebody had indeed done something, the lady never specified exactly who “we” were or what “it” was. In reality, either “we” or “it” could have been any number of things. “We,” for instance, could have referred to the lady’s particular ethnic group, and very understandably so. Alternately, it could have been alluding to the Democratic Party. On an even grander scale, she could have been applauding the country at large, and hopefully she was.

As the nation begins to move forward in the wake of a Nov. 4 packed with historical significance, it’s of critical importance that the country starts reintegrating its conception of “we.” The nation can no longer be perceived as two distinct camps whose sole aim is political posturing. The country once again must strive to become a coherent unit, particularly in light of the challenges it now faces. McCain may well have said it best in his concession speech when he urged all Americans to unify in “offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

To be sure, the responsibility of re-assimilating America is a bipartisan obligation. The burden falls neither solely on the winners nor on the losers. America must move forward as a single country. A realization of this obligation necessarily implicates all those by whom that unit is comprised. The “we” to which the lady I met on the Loop was referring has to be all-inclusive.

In movie scenes depicting mob-style street celebrations, there are always houses on both sides of the street. As a metaphor for the present situation, this aspect of those scenes is particularly relevant. If America is to move forward effectively, people with homes on both sides of the street need to rush out and work toward creating something to celebrate.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.

Subscribe