Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan. 20, 2009: A Hopeful Day

Photo from itn.co.uk
We watched the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama on the big screen in class today.

These ceremonies have occurred many times in my lifetime, but this is the first time I feel connected to it, the first time in my life that I felt as if my voice, my vote, had anything at all to do with what went on in the distant land of Washington, D.C.

The aspects of the ceremony that are meant to be moving and meaningful -- the parts that usually leave me cold with the awareness of hypocrisy that offends me to my core -- those things moved me today: "My Country 'Tis of Thee," the benedictions, the happy crowd, the proud First Lady.

I felt the pinprick of tears in my eyes and a swell of something in my chest; could this unfamiliar sensation be . . . patriotism?

I have added President Barack Obama to my prayers. Our country is in a real mess, and I pray he can lead us through it with grace and dignity. In other words, I hope we can have some grace and dignity, pull out of our economic crisis, extricate ourselves from this war and come up with real solutions for the injustices of the world. In short, start living up to some of the Founders' ideals:
". . . a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . ."
--from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

I hope I don't start waving flags any time soon; this is really weird. I may have to rethink my whole expat, retirement-in-Sweden fantasy.


Kym said...

Obama's greatest power is as a symbol of what this nation is capable of when it stretches--what we all are capable of.

I hope he continues to use the strength he gains from his power to encourage us to use our own power---A power that under George Bush seemed strangled and diseased and likely to be used for ill as for good!

Indie said...

There's a lot of pressure on this guy.

Kristen said...

Yeah, I felt my first ever *expectation* for a government to care, act boldly, and all while holding *themselves* accountable. I don't feel as cynical about government anymore, and I find that very strange and sometimes intolerable **heehee**.

We shall see, but keeping him in our prayers is a mighty fine idea :)

Love to You,

Carol said...

I thought I had lost my faith, but my faith has never left me. We have to look each other in the eye and lend a hand when we can.

Praying can only help. Collective praying is even more powerful.

Kato said...

Carol, your comment (and our national preoccupation this week) reminded me of another great Frederick Douglass quote: "I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs". Prayer has many expressions, from silently setting intention to hard, physical labor.

In searching for the exact wording of that quote, I found these, too, which illustrate better what I've been feeling about expectations of The Man and the responsibility for real change that lies with us all:

"Just because everything is different, doesn't mean anything has changed." - Irene Peter

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work; there is now no smooth road into the future. But we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." - D.H. Lawrence

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strenght to stare it down." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Indie said...

Kato, those quotes are great. The Eleanor Roosevelt (one of my heroes) really says something to me. They all do.

I know you're talking about the nation, but in our house we have dealt with a lot of trials lately, and I have a young man here who needs to be reminded to keep his hopes up, "new little hopes" and handling each new thing courageously.

Thank you, Kato.

Carol, me too. I thought I was hopelessly cynical about all things government and all politicians. It's the habit of a lifetime. But surprise, I'm just a mushy sap.

Indie said...

Kristen, isn't it weird? These are the stirrings of enfranchisement we are feeling.

Kato said...

Mrs. Roosevelt had at least as many stirring speeches as her husband. She also said to do something every day that scares you. I'm not sure you want to give that mantra to your teenager, though.

Indie said...

I watched an amazing documentary about her on the History Channel a couple of years ago. She was a real asset to our country, and she sort of set the standard for hard-working, philanthropic First Ladies.

Carol said...

Great lady, that Eleanor! Thanks Kato for the quotes.

I am sorry to hear your son is going through difficult times. My daughter had a car accident a couple of years ago and was quite shook up for awhile and was afraid of driving. It is a shocking experience and takes time to work through. I will add him and your family to my prayers, too.

Blog hugs!

Indie said...

Thank you so much, Carol. I feel lucky to have such gracious people reading my blog. He is doing better, slowly, but surely.

Kato said...

I hope your son (and the rest of us!) won't be too frustrated with where he's at right now, but be satisfied with the direction he's moving in. Sounds like he's got a supportive, understanding mom, which is always a good start for a man.

Courage isn't being unafraid, it's being afraid but doing it anyway. Be true to yourselves!

ang said...

I only saw the last 5 minutes of the speech and it brought tears to my eyes. I hope I'm not disappointed.