From time to time, people will say to me that I drink too much Diet coke. These well meaning folks are concerned about the detrimental effects that my excessive Diet Coke consumption might have on my health. I generally try to act like I appreciate their concerns, even if I cannot bring myself to believe that Diet Coke is a bad thing.
Well, I am a believer now. There is no teacher quite as effective as experience. When is Diet Coke a bad thing and how did life teach me this lesson? Tuesday of this past week, Election Day, I am sitting at the computer reading, thinking, talking on the phone and drinking a Diet Coke. Placing my Diet Coke in the center of my workspace, right in front of my keyboard, I turn to get something off my desk. Normally, I do not set my Diet coke in the center of my workspace, directly in front of my keyboard. So when I turn back from my desk to my computer, I do not expect for there to be a Diet Coke can in the space where I am putting my notepad. It is too late. The damage is done. The notepad bumps into the Diet Coke. The diet coke wobbles helplessly before falling headlong onto my keyboard. The keyboard quickly drinks down this wet and tasty, though accidental, refreshment.
When is Diet Coke a bad thing? Diet Coke is a bad thing when it spills onto and into your computer keyboard. Listening to folks talk in the days leading up to the election and knowing how some people feel about politics and government, I imagine that there are those who feel like a Diet Coke has just been spilled on their keyboard. Whether it is concerns about his experience, his religion, or his policy ideas, they see the results of the Tuesday election as a messed up keyboard. It is not like spilling something on the floor. No — when you spill something on the floor, cleaning up is not so hard. Floors are made to be cleaned, but keyboards, not so much. Spill something on a keyboard and you are faced not just with cleaning up a mess, but also with whether or not the keyboard will work once you have cleaned up the mess.
Strangely enough, there are other people who are having a different experience. They do not feel like a mess has been made. No, their experience is more akin to tasting a cold, tingly Diet Coke for the very first time. These people turned Chicago’s Grant Park, site of rioting during the 1968 Democratic Convention, into a sea of joyous celebration. These people marveled as the Commonwealth of Virginia, the state that provided the Confederate States with their capitol and their greatest general, favored the Democratic candidate for the first time since Lyndon Johnson. They filled the streets of our nation’s capitol and the sanctuary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to share with others the wonder of it all.
Oddly enough, both of these reactions to the election of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America are in response to the same event. All across the country in workplaces and neighborhoods, some people see a mess, while others see history being made. The election for some is a tragic mistake; for others it is a transformative moment.
Reactions aside, President Obama needs our prayers as he seeks to lead our country through some very difficult days. His wife and daughters need our prayers as they adjust to life in the White House.
Surprisingly my keyboard is not in need of prayer. After spilling my Diet coke into it, I flipped it over to let it drain. Then I went to the work room to grab some paper towels. I took a paper towel and slipped the edge of it into the spaces between the keys while holding the keyboard upside down. After repeating this process several times, I put the keyboard in the upright position and gave it a test drive. Amazingly, there were no signs of damage. I thought it was a mess. Worse, I thought it was ruined. But it worked like it was new. Go figure.