“Vhat’s dah story?”
“Hey, Anyu, can’t talk long, do me a favor. I need you to go to the high school and stand in line for the special booths with the buttons in them. I need you to hit the button that says O-B-A-M-A, it’s really a good idea.”
I typically avoid discussing politics with family because we are on polar opposite sides of the fence. Some might argue that we are on opposite freaking time zones of the fence. Still, the terror of having a plucky hockey mom end up a potential world leader clouded my judgement, and I actually started the conversation.
After a long pause, my mother let out a sigh.
“No, Stephie, I don’t tink so.”
“No, really, it’s a great idea! And if you go to the voting machines, you can wear something nice and maybe run into some cute single guy. So, you should go, before they close! Don’t forget your ID.”
“So, vhen are you comink home? Don’t forget it’s Irina’s birthday soon.”
“Stop changing the subject. Why won’t you vote? Even if it isn’t for Obama, you have a right to an opinion, you know. Hey, are you even registered?”
“Shh, don’t talk about dese tings, they’re listening. Stephie, Nostradamus predicted dat dah vorld vould end in 2012, so vhat da hell does it matter anyhow?”
For forty minutes, she dodged the subject and continually talked about birthday presents, the gossip column in the movie star tabloids, and Nagymama’s latest antics.
I decided to give my aunt a call instead.
“Hey, Nagynéni! Did you have a chance to vote for Obama today? I really think-”
“Stephie….we just can’t do that. Dese guys are goink to make this a socialist country. [Obama] is going to tax everyvon, all of our factories will close, vork vill go overseas, and ve’ll be eating soup all dah time. Either way, ve’re screwed.”
“What makes you say that? Is that what happened to the government when you were growing up? Tell me about it.”
“So, vhen are you comink home? I fixed your pants for you, the ones with the hole in the ass.”
Try as I might, I was unable to get an answer out of her, either. I guess what happens in Hungary and Romania stays in Hungary and Romania.
I always forget that my family has seen communism and socialism first hand, so they have no faith in government. Both my mother and aunt seemed uncomfortable to even state anything against the current administration over the phone. Nagymama has never said a word about politics to me, except when she mutters to herself about “damn communism pigs!”
This whole incident prompted me to research “Goulash Communism”, since my family came to this country in 1970, right in the center of the Post Revolution era. The general facts are all over history books, but I never truly trust history books because they are written by the people that “won”. I always yearn for the stories about the real “day in the life” of people during troubled times. Without first-hand accounts, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around what just happened in Hungary and the Eastern Bloc during the communist rein, the same way my family cannot understand why I would vote for Obama or go to art school instead pursuing my doctorate in biology. We’ve have all seen the world in a different way, and for some reason, we are unable to communicate those views to each other.
I am not here today to argue the points of Democrats or Republicans, Communists or Socialists, Captain Crunch or Tony the Tiger. I just want to point out an important fact that was eloquently stated in Obama’s Inauguration Speech:
“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”
With the way the economy is going, we can all agree that we’re a bit anxious. But regardless of party line, it’s not up to Obama to save us all. Too many people are laying and waiting for him to make a mistake just so they can point their cynical finger and say, “Ha! He couldn’t save the world, either! We’re doomed.”
Our country is not just a plot of land. It is a living breathing body, with a brain, muscles, spine and heart. Our united minds can find the answers, our combined muscles will build the solutions, our spines will keep us poised against threats, and our hearts will guide us through it all. If we let all the minds do the work and don’t put in any muscle, the entire system will atrophy, and we will fall. America, we are getting soft, and we need to stop complaining and take action. And that doesn’t mean dropping bombs on people just to show them who’s boss.
It’s not enough to go to your 9-5 on time every day.
It’s not enough saying that you’ll make a difference in someone’s life…tomorrow.
It’s not enough to place your cans in the blue bin and hope someone takes them for you.
No man or woman in the world can handle the burden of an entire nation that has become dead weight. I am happy to see that a flame of hope has been ignited in the hearts Americans, and some might say, the entire world. Granted, not everyone can be mother Theresa, but just about anyone can make an action plan. It doesn’t matter if you are in Hungary, Honduras, or Hong Kong, everyone should set small, short-term goals for themselves, their business, their family, the people around them, and the environment at large. By setting goals and communicating with the people around us, we can find direction, and learn from the stumbling blocks we encounter along the way. It’s time to evolve past our petty differences.
I am committed to making this world a better place through arts, culture, education, and entertainment. As a personal mission, I will try to help my family get past the fear and hopelessness that obviously still haunts. I will try to find them answers to their past so we can look towards the future.
What do you plan to do?