It was a boisterous night in Canada's most hallowed halls of learning, writes Ecotrust Canada President Ian Gill, when Massey College, at the University of Toronto, hosted Fellows young and old, plus a few hangers-on, to witness the most pivotal US election in most of our lives – if not ever.
Ondaatje Hall was festively decorated in reds, whites and blues and there was a brave attempt at objectivity, inasmuch as the walls were decorated equally with McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden posters and campaign bling.
But, as in most of the thinking world, there was little doubt what outcome people sought, indeed craved.
It was an oddly un-academic evening. Projectors beamed coverage onto screens in two separate rooms, and one could be forgiven for thinking that this crowd would settle into an evening of good, stolid CBC fare. In fact, those in charge of the remote controls gravitated between CNN's garish computer-mania, and John Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rollicking spoofs on Comedy Central.
Every time a state was called for Obama, there were hoots and hollers worthy of a football game. When the result was sure, there was general agreement that McCain's concession speech was gracious, and that he looked almost relieved not to actually have to be president and run a country on the brink of moral, financial and environmental ruin. And then when Obama took the stage in Chicago, a hush, almost a hypnosis – and tears, presumably some of joy, but mostly of relief.
The following quote, from George Santayana, encircles Ondaatje Hall: "Happiness is impossible, and even inconceivable, to a mind without scope and without pause, a mind driven by craving, pleasure or fear. To be happy, you must be reasonable, or you must be tamed. You must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passion, and learned your place in the world and what things in it can really serve you. To be happy, you must be wise."
These have been unhappy times for America, and for the world, with the country led by a venal idiot, possessed of a mind without scope and pause.
Barack Obama is so much wiser, and in the wee hours of a gorgeous fall morning on Wednesday in Toronto, the world was suddenly a wiser and an inestimably happier place in which to be abroad.