When asked about the reasons Americans were voting for Barack Obama, these are a few of the words they used.
Perhaps they didn’t know at that time that one man can’t change an entire culture.
If anything about American culture changed in the presidency and campaigning of Mr. Obama, it was done by the “WE” in YES WE CAN, and CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.
People like the “we” more than maybe they would admit. They need the “we.”
The Charlotte Douglas International Airport has become a reflection of American culture. Airports are neither here nor there. No one comes without a purpose. Everyone is either coming or going. Everyone has completely different agendas, but they all have one thing in common: the airport. They wait to either come or go, and as they wait, they eat, or they read, or they text, or they talk, or they just sit.
At the Charlotte airport, there were thirty-something wooden rocking chairs placed in the food court area along a huge windowed wall. The fascinating findings are that they are actually used. The community of the Charlotte airport has decided (nonverbally) that anyone, whether they are coming, going, sitting, sleeping, texting, thinking, eating, drinking, nursing, listening to music, watching, or otherwise may sit in a rocking chair and be fine. They will be all right. They, for a moment, are part of something. After a while, each person who sits in their rocking chair will get on their flight, or leave the airport, and will probably never see their fellow “rockers” again. But at that time, they can be whoever they want, and do whatever they want, and sit in a rocking chair alongside others doing the same thing.
In America, everyone is constantly and consistently coming and going. They pass each other every day on the streets and the sidewalks. They blast their car horns at one another. Occasionally, they throw their middle finger up at a complete stranger who has inconvenienced them. On occasion, they see someone drop a dollar in a Salvation Army bucket and decide to do the same. A girl may be in Barnes and Noble and see a girl more beautiful than her pick up Elle magazine off the shelf and decide to do the same, or perhaps the same scenario but with a recent bestseller.
They choose best friends primarily based on mutual connection, mutual interests, and mutual values.
They choose a spouse based primarily on mutual connection, mutual interests, and mutual values.
Mutual feelings. Mutual hobbies. Mutual things of value. Mutual ideas of good. Mutual ideas. Mutual sources of inspiration. Mutual sources of emotion. Mutual hope. Mutual goal. Mutual situations of simply being.
These are the things that connect us. These are the things that create culture. Hollywood may dictate the fads and mediums that come and go, but Americans only latch onto these things based on how it connects them with other people. In some situations, it is not facebook, texting, parties, or drinking that bind us to other people, but a line of rocking chairs. An airport. Ordering the same drink at starbucks as someone else. Voting for a president for the same reasons that everyone else seems to.
Christians have to find their place in a culture like this. This culture may reject good sometimes. They seem to reject Jesus Christ almost all of the time. But they need Him even if they don’t want Him.
Let them sit and rock their babies. Let them sit and “hope.” Let them sit in the airports—the “in-between” of the here and there. Let them sit in a place that, for a moment in time, is a community and an identification. Let them sit. Let them read about change, and about “world-changers.” If their world doesn’t need them, at least their babies do. While people like Barack Obama tour the country, fight to be heard, get their name chanted, and perhaps even become president, at least someone can be a face that chanted the name. Maybe no one can change the world, but anyone can be connected. Let them read and be connected. Let them read and feel something.
Hello. Welcome to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Welcome to America. Where all is not lost. Where all will vote for hope and change. Where everyone has freedom. Freedom to be independent. Freedom to be successful. Freedom to make something of yourself. Freedom to say yes or no. Freedom to have opportunity. Equal opportunity.
But in the meantime, have a seat in this white wooden rocking chair.