I have a story that has several plot lines. It is human, multifaceted, and it does not fit into any predefined stereotypes. While both politics and race come up in the story, it is not about either. It is about the heart. It is about friendship, and corruption, and courage, and cowardice.

PART ONE.

This morning, I stumbled upon a video of very young Obama talking about his upbringing, his search for what it means to be black in America, his friends, his emotions, and his family. It made my heart feel, really feel.

Granted, Obama was probably born a genius politician and therefore, only he can know the real ‘raw emotion to calculated presentation’ ratio of that speech. However, the end result was very moving. I almost forgave him for his bright-eyed drones and his charismatic surveillance, the way you forgive one man’s weakness. No matter how deep in the belly of the beast he went, you can see a human seeking something that his soul compels him to seek.

Oh yes, with soul, we collectively write history, for good or for bad. For good and for bad.

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Eight years ago, like many others, I was all about “hope” and “change.” I donated to his campaign. I met him in person once and I liked him a lot.

By the time he was done, I had a bitter taste in my mouth over his actions. Undoubtedly, it is very difficult for anybody living today to remain pure in the real world, and it is especially hard for somebody aiming and getting that high in society. However, corruption of the soul always saddens me. Corruption of the soul messes with the potential for eternal beauty. I feel like when one person betrays his or her soul, it in some way impacts everybody.

So I was curious about his soul,  and I read about his life. Complex! Sure he has good looks, he is diplomatic, well-educated and very eloquent. Seems like he has also stepped over people who loved him and at times bypassed gratitude, because getting to the top was worth it.

PART TWO.

I had a friend. Our relationship was professional but I felt great respect for him and thought he was a friend, too. I respected him tremendously for his bright intellect and his art. Like, a million buckets of respect.

He was black, and it was visibly hurting in him, like things hurt in a man. Slavery, police brutality, growing up in the ‘real’ world… it was something that was constantly present in the air around him, and the unpeace was palpable. I felt his pain, it is hard not to relate to human strive for truth. From what my eyes saw, he perceived himself not just as himself, a human being with a story, but as a representative, a symbol–and as a symbol, he was entitled to playing to win, no matter what.

At some point, a “me too” situation came up in that circle of people, a situation with a professional cherry on top. It was yucky. I opened my mouth about it, and was immediately hit with consequences. I pleaded with my friend who was in the position to interfere, to stand up for me. Not only didn’t he stand up for me, he actually threw me under the bus and subjected me to a small witch hunt.

I have not forgiven him. His choice was despicable. He acted like a total coward. Not a man, a coward. I am not the revengeful type, I trust life to straighten things out wisely and with most kindness–but what he did was existential poop, and it is on him to clean it up. I asked him very sincerely to help me and restore justice. He betrayed his humanity to be a black man winning in the white world. He felt like risking his small throne for some truth-seeking chick in distress was unnecessary. Fine. I am still breathing, and on the inside, I won… May my contempt be a reminder to him. May his soul lead him where he needs to be. May I be redeemed in the kindest way for everybody, starting with me.

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A few centuries ago, my other fellow human beings, local African leaders who sold their prisoners of war to European slave traders, also wanted to win in the proverbial white world… desire to win at any price is an interesting thing.

And a few centuries before that, the local leaders who ruled in the land of my Slavic ancestors, wanted to win in the Byzantine and surrounding worlds, and so they chose personal victory over the well-being of their own people. The consequences of their choices are still lingering over the land…

History is simply what we all choose to do, inside and outside.

And then the official history is written by the winners…

Is winning at any price worth it, or is winning at any price simply a hushed cry of an orphaned heart?

 

 

 

Photo credit: Victor Zamalin