Today in class, as we discussed the election going on around us, I tried to tell my freshman how they'd see red and blue and crazy whiteboard technology tonight and the meaning of the number 270. I could tell they were processing it, and trying to soak it all in. And one of my students--a girl who moved here from another country--raised her hand. She asked, in a timid but serious voice:
"But what if the candidate that loses....what if he tries to take over? What if he tries to kill the new President? What happens then?"
My knee-jerk reaction was to laugh a bit. But then I realized she was serious. Where she moved from, war was a part of life...and still is.
I realized she wasn't kidding or trying to be funny. Because in many places around the world, that could very easily happen. That idea was not funny to her. That was a possible reality.
I quickly wiped the smile off my face and said, "You know, _______, we're very lucky that we don't have to really worry about that here." I gave her a few examples when the elections were very close or contested, and in each case, the candidates stepped down and pledged support to the winner.
I'm sitting here listening to a very classy, thoughtful, sincere concession speech from a tremendous American hero. And make no mistake--I am very happy about tonight's results--but I am more happy, and proud, and tearful, even, that I live in a country where peace is the norm. Where we don't have to worry if our election results will lead to bloodshed. Where the losing candidate pledges and urges support for his new President...and where something that seemed inconceivable forty years ago happened during my lifetime.