Sister, can you spare some change?

Published 7:17 am Friday, October 10, 2008

During this presidential election, anyone following the campaigns has heard a lot of rhetoric about change.

Lots of things need changing — Congress, Washington, D.C., the economy, our attitudes.

It’s true something needs to give in this country, but the change America is so desperately seeking needs to start at home. We can’t depend on a new leader to make us and our lives instantly better. We have to work at it ourselves and then expect it from others.

A cringe-worthy exchange was overheard Saturday afternoon at the Franklin Fall Festival and, if ever an attitude needed adjusting, it was this one.

The weather was close to perfect and people were happily strolling the streets of downtown Franklin eating, shopping and chatting.

It really could not have been a more lovely setting or a more fitting afternoon for an event. Of course, being an election year, there were booths dedicated to each of the presidential candidates at the festival.

It was here that an ugly undercurrent was bubbling up — the same nastiness that has gripped this last few, desperate weeks of the election and bombarded our homes via news sound bites and campaign ads.

A young boy — he must not have been more than 12 years old — walked by the McCain-Palin booth and smiled widely as he shouted “Obama! Obama! Obama!”

A woman, clearly older, should have been wise and ignored the boy.

But she couldn’t resist the temptation and she shouted back, even louder, “McCain! McCain! McCain!”

Normally, something silly like that might have been laughed off and forgotten. But the words she shouted had both bark and bite, and I couldn’t help but think about the situation several times that afternoon.

Besides being incredibly immature, the woman’s attitude highlights a bigger problem we have in America today.

Political candidates can talk all they want about how things need to change.

Men running for president have soliloquized about changing Washington, D.C., since it first became the seat of United States government.

An election without talk of reform would be like a birthday without talk of cake.

For me, change can’t happen soon enough, especially in these tough economic times. It’s a promise that resonates with many, and I haven’t given up hope that this year our candidates actually mean what they say when they talk about hope.

But a tornado of change isn’t going to tear through this country without rumblings kicking up dust on the ground first.

Maybe we should lead the charge at home.