Well, anybody who isn't new here, knows that I'm happy to see our former president safely tucked away in Texas, though I still wish he was tucked away in jail. But let me stick to the positive.
I'm so happy that we have such a good - truly good, I believe - man holding the highest office in the land. I listened to his inaugural address yesterday and I felt like the ventriloquists who have been putting ugly words into the mouth of my nation had left the building and our real voice was speaking out again. My favorite sentence.... or one of them was this:
"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."
And in the next paragraph he added that
...earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.
There was more, but these words - this kind of attitude gives me hope and it makes me feel safer than I have felt in many years. A world of us and them, a world of might makes right is a dangerous and ugly world in which to live. I have no children, but I have nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. I want them to live in a world where we don't meet hate with hate and bombs with bombs, where our leaders understand that true power isn't about controlling others, but about knowing and trusting yourself.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.
Anyway, I' think we are about to rediscover that our strength lies in living our ideals, not talking about them.
On another note, since I had all sorts of time on my hands away from the computer, I was thinking about some things. It's odd to me that for me - despite having grown up when racism was still overtly rampant in this country, it seems perfectly natural to me to have a black president. I'm thrilled not by Mr. Obama's blackness, but by his character. I have a feeling that for much of white America, Martin Luther King, followed by Oprah, Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby and others, have changed our race consciousness without our really even knowing it. Few voices have had a more far-reaching impact on our culture than Oprah. Brilliant, eloquent black people are part of our national culture now. I realize that this isn't true for all white people. There is still rampant racism out there. But I think we have long been more changed than we realized.
What has been interesting and deeply moving to me is to see what this means for BLACK Americans. For them the earth has truly shifted and it's beautiful to see the joy and excitement on their faces, to hear it in their voices. This is a profound healing for a huge segment of our society and therefor for our society as a whole. How glorious!
I should probably leave it here - but I have to add a little peeve on a non inaugural note. Is everyone in the media stuck in the third grade? The whole "cabinet of rivals" crap and the idea that grown-ups can't disagree, compete against one another and then get over it and be friends and team members really irritates me. I'm sure that Hilary Clinton was disappointed when she lost and may have needed to lick her wounds for a few days, but the idea that she and Obama are eternal competitors or enemies is idiotic and reflects a kind of emotional immaturity, not on the part of Obama and Clinton (and all the others onto whom it is projected), but on the media people who seem bent on living in a world of people with the maturity of gnats. It seems to be beyond their comprehension that one can listen with genuine interest and respect to ideas with which you disagree. We have too long been in the grips of people who have operated that way, I fear. But a grown-up has now taken office. Above and beyond what he offers us in practical and policy terms - and he has a huge task ahead of him there - Mr. Obama seems to clearly recognize the power of the bully pulpit, the power of inspiring others - young and old - to become their highest and best selves.
I think President Obama is speaking/appealing to our better angels. Hopefully we will let our better angels out to dance and sing and work and play.