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Kathleen Reardon Headshot

We More Than "Stumbled" On Hope This Week

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They built it and indeed they came in the tens of thousands. It would not have been possible without the pain that preceded what has to have been the most impressive, warmest, most hopeful and inspiring Democratic Convention any of us can remember.

Last November I wrote about "that Biden magic." And it's back. His magic is a rare combination in politics of sincerity, sensitivity, empathy, searing intellect, insight, abiding love of country, extraordinary experience and more than a pinch of charisma. There it was again when Joe Biden stepped to the podium, beamed with pride for his son and family, then told us why McCain simply can't be allowed to win the election.

And for the last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest -- the biggest forces shaping this century: the emergence of Russia, China, and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front in the war on terror.

There it was, as if contagious, when each of the speakers boldly stepped to the microphone -- so many people suffering from far too many years of what has become repugnant Republican lack of leadership -- to share their heartaches now balanced by their hopes.

But it was Barack Obama's translation of hope into a reality he promised to provide as president that brought it all together, even for so many who have backed Hillary Clinton, and partly, as he graciously expressed, because of her avid support.

They've all grown and apparently did not leave us behind. When he essentially said disagreement is what we do in order to have a better America, he opened the tent to all.

In his book Stumbling On Happiness, Daniel Gilbert reminds us that the human mind typically forgoes imagination when reality is pressing down. It's as if reality has the upper hand in the human brain, a front seat ticket. Imagination, the foundation of hope, cannot function when reality insists on forging forward into consciousness. The up side: it keeps us from being hit by a train while daydreaming. But reality, by bullying, often precludes imaginings of better times.

Last night was an exception -- a time when it was possible to talk about reality and still dream about possibilities. We stumbled on hope, not in the sense of tripping accidentally on something we didn't know was there, but by finding ourselves in a moment when the reality of our dire circumstances and hope could exist side-by-side -- when the latter even surpassed reality as it does when people pushed down by loss or hardship see a light and rise to meet it.

Last night Barack Obama told us in no uncertain terms what "change" means. Even if you knew what he intended in your heart, by his final words his path was made clear. The joy silenced a media poised to pick him apart. At CNN a bevy of "senior analysts" sat mystified, sensing, it seemed, that we'd just as soon not hear from them.

Joe Biden said the other day, "You know, you can learn a lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him, seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind. But even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart."

This week we saw into the hearts of both men and into the hearts of those who, no matter how rough the path, stood at their side. And what we found was magic.

Dr. Reardon also blogs at bardscove

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