I have a penchant for nicknames, especially if the name I’m nicking is frequently in my mind and conversations: I guess I’ve a lazy-brained tongue as well as a fondness for terms of endearment. So, Senator Obama, I started calling you "Ba’rama" about three weeks ago. Then, last Monday in Grand Junction, your introducer tripped a bit (It’s OK!) and called you "Ba’rama." Click. As, at the time, I was also mulling over a series of letters to you on my blog, CenterDoug <http://www.centerdoug.blogspot.com/> “Letters to Ba’rama” clicked in as the title, so, there we are.
You handled that little trip of the tongue very graciously: it’s a trait of yours I appreciate, and one, hopefully, I’ll return. I’ve decided, in fact, to appreciate, in the next posts, our common ground, and in this #1 Letter to Ba’rama, your empathy, for I know it’s real: I saw it in your eyes in Grand Junction; it touched me with a frisson of kindred spirit as we shook hands. I complimented The Audacity of Hope. You thanked me kindly. I’d wear a Michael Jackson glove to shield the hand that shook the hand of the next President of the United States, but I’m not into outward display or the future—very tricky ground--and, anyway, the connection felt more “human-to-human” and present moment than hero worship. Empathy touches deeper than that.
You recognize that most of our lives are struggles "of warring impulses, a twining of darkness and light," an awareness that leads to balance and understanding, good leadership qualities. If you can walk in others’ shoes as you did last Monday, you’ve got it made, Ba’rama, whatever happens in November, and I’m very grateful for it. Last night I registered 45 new voters and tonight I'm on the Obama phone bank, to show my appreciation and my longings for a changed America.