O HOW WE SUFFERED

CUF Admin
November 27, 2016

O HOW WE SUFFERED

(A Presentation by Ken Starbuck at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship on November 27, 2016)  

I’ve noticed that most everyone is a bit quieter since the election, maybe even somewhat more polite. A woman friend and I who have hair appointments about the same time had engaged in the safe space of basically not speaking to one another. We acknowledged one another, but didn’t try to take it any further. After the election, she wanted to make it clear to Kathy and me that her husband was now working out at our fitness center. She wanted us to meet him and include him in our lives. She wanted to reconnect, but wanted a safe passage. So are the next few months going to be a time of reconnecting? With ourselves? With others?

I became an active Republican at the age of nine. Every two years the governor of Kansas ran for re-election or election, and at that time my dad’s job depended on a republican being elected. I thought if a republican wasn’t elected Governor in Kansas, my father would lose his job. I didn’t really understand how unlikely that was in Kansas at the time, but as we all know now sometimes the unlikely happens. Governor Ratner was re-elected that year, and so we had food on the table for another couple years.

That same year of 1940 I engaged in the presidential election. Most of the people around me thought two terms were enough for Roosevelt, and that Wendell Willkie could do the job just fine. So I was as involved as a nine-year old could be, and I campaigned for Willkie. When he lost, O how I suffered. It was worse than the Kansas Jayhawks losing a basketball game. But I learned that it was okay if things didn’t always come out the way I wanted. And then Roosevelt recognized the genius of Willkie, and engaged him in building “One World”, the name of his book that helped me to think internationally.

Kathy and I were married in 1952, the year Eisenhower and Stevenson ran for president the first time. It would have been so easy for us to support Eisenhower, a war hero who grew up in Abilene, Kansas, the town where Kathy was born. In our early years of college, I was becoming an intellectual, and we were both becoming Democrats. We were watching a black and white television in Baldwin, Kansas, when we first saw Stevenson. I said “this is my guy” and Kathy said “okay”, and we then we went off and made love. When Stevenson lost, O how we suffered. Later the genius of Stevenson was recognized by President Kennedy, and he was appointed U.S representative to the United Nations.

Years later in our 64th year of marriage, we sat down on a November evening to watch the election results. I had predicted who would win, and I thought the call would come about 9:30 in the evening. That time came and went. If we had been heavy drinkers, by eleven we would have been “three sheets to the wind”. Everything we believed, everything we stood for, everything that was precious seemed to be going down the drain. As the night went on, O how we suffered. What we have taught our children, what we have learned to love in ourselves and in others, was still there when the evening was gone. We knew where we stood in terms of caring for our brothers and sisters, no matter the color, the country of origin or religion, the sometimes tragic effects of birth, the handicapped, and the terrible burden of mental illness. We knew how we felt about loving people and supporting them, and we know that will never change no matter how few or many years we live upon this earth. Peace be upon you, and all those who are precious in your life.

What we have taught our children, what we have learned to love in ourselves and in others, was still there when the evening was gone. We knew where we stood in terms of caring for our brothers and sisters, no matter the color, the country of origin or religion, the sometimes tragic effects of birth, the handicapped, and the terrible burden of mental illness. We knew how we felt about loving people and supporting them, and we know that will never change no matter how few or many years we live upon this earth. Peace be upon you, and all those who are precious in your life.

Peace be upon you, and all those who are precious in your life.