Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Musings on the Inauguration

Watching the inauguration today, I couldn't help but think back to when I stood in front of the capital in 2004, protesting the Iraq war. Thousands (only) of us bussed to Washington in the night, arriving early in the morning and then taking the subway into the capital. We protested for a few hours, listened to speeches by all the usual suspects, had a beer and a sandwich at a nice local eatery, and then started out on the long way home. It was a long and hard day, but I felt I had to have my say in the only place where my opinion might make a difference. I did have my say, but I didn't make a difference. Being right didn't count much when Bush and Cheney held the power.

Today, I was not in front of the capital but in front of my TV, enjoying every aspect of the formal inauguration ceremony: Rick Warren, the quartet, the poet and her wonderful poem, Aretha Franklin, the botched oath (hilarious!), Obama's down-to-earth but powerful and inspiring speech, and Rev. Lowery's poignant benediction. I give the event a 9.9! So what if the security was incapable of moving enough people into viewing position...this event was just too big to manage.

I just watched a clip of Obama's walk down Constitution Avenue with Michelle. Yes, maybe it was not the smartest thing, but it made a statement about courage and about accessibility. For the next few years, Obama will need to be close to the people in order to keep their faith and trust during hard times. He'll also need their support to keep the congress (representatives of the special interests) in line. There will be some danger in that, as well.

Obama was gracious to his predecessor, a man who will have to live with his disgrace until he dies. Bush was a man apparently oblivious to his inability to comprehend the requirements of his job. He's said that he'll let history judge him; it will be brutal. Already the European press has administered the coup de gras! I will never be able to forgive him or his behind-the-scenes masters for the carnage they inflicted on our country and the world. But at last Bush's power is gone, and good riddance!

The next few years are going to be really tough. It will be worse, maybe much worse, before it gets better. The level of sacrifice required of Americans will be far greater than most can imagine. But, the forces of progress cannot be impeded for too long. Perhaps a major adjustment in our way of life is in store for us, which would not be all bad: our culture has got too attached to having things with little true value. I can't wait to hear Obama's call for us to get our heads on straight in many aspects of life, especially in the areas of people getting serious about education, civil behavior, and contributing to the common good. If anyone can use the bully pulpit to advantage, it's Barack. Good luck to you, young man! (I have one son older than Obama, and another who was 47 today).

As for me, I don't expect to make any more protest trips to Washington. I will spend my time trying to help Barack Obama and our country succeed. I'm just one person, but I will put my shoulder to the wheel, I will make sacrifices for the common good, and I will encourage others to do the same. I look forward to the challenge, for without challenge life is empty. Let's get busy, let's give Obama a chance, let's not pay attention to the nay-sayers and the bitter ones, and let's get the 21st century moving in the right direction again. If not us, who?


Emily said...

Exactly. He is our leader, but we must be part of the solution.

Ron Davison said...

I do think that I'd be even happier about Obama taking office if that was not so overshadowed by my relief at George leaving it.
Happy day.

Woozie said...

Like Bush said, it's good to be home.