Dear folks –
After today, I will reluctantly remove the Manifest Obama video, to honor the wishes of its creators. I am appalled that this might be so, for free speech is diminished by such situations. But I have to respect their wishes. Here is what they wrote, that led me to this unhappy decision.
In addition to all the reasons James gave you in his letter, there are some other reasons as well:
Some of our dear friends are in that video. So are a good number of kind-hearted, fun-loving individuals from the Obama rally at AHS [Asheville High School]–that we don’t know at all — but who gracefully agreed to be in the video because they were excited about Obama becoming our next president.
We don’t want any of them in any way impacted by the recent torrent of negative words, accusations, and energy that they had no part in creating. It feels very wrong to me that good people who were out at a rally, waiting in line, enjoying the sun, feeling hopeful and happy and ready to support their candidate are now being maligned as “cult members.”
Perhaps I was naive not to see it coming, but we just don’t want that to go on and gain momentum, and we don’t want people to get angry and combative in defense of us. As James said, we don’t want to water those seeds. What can I say: I’m a mom. I feel protective and responsible . . .
The ironic thing is: how a site we created to encourage people to refrain from negative attacks and focus on the positive, could end up drawing so many negative attacks.
And just this afternoon I read a blog post from an Obama supporter who commented that we are “lame” for pulling the site. I honestly wish we could turn a corner as a culture and take the energy we pour into name calling and finger-pointing and to ask one another — in the spirit of compassion (as you did, and I appreciate that very much): “Why?”
How can we ever know the heart of another — from the person we love most dearly to the one we consider to be our enemy — unless we begin in earnest to ask this question?
As you know, I am a teacher. I have been spending the last month studying the wise words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu with my class. Desmond Tutu has spent the better part of his life seeking reconciliation and offering forgiveness for unthinkable crimes. Here is a quote we studied recently that I find deeply meaningful in the wake of this eye-opening episode:
“It is unity we are talking about, not uniformity. What is needed is to respect one another’s points of view and not to impute unworthy motives to one another or to seek to impugn the integrity of one another. Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another and to cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.”
And this morning, we read this simple formula from the Archbishop:
“If I diminish you, I diminish myself.”
It’s something for all of us to think about; to aspire to.
In gratitude for what you do,