Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration

January 20, 2009

I was able to watch the inauguration on television both glad to be in the warmth and also sorry not to be on the mall in DC for this extraordinary event. I have seen plenty of inauguration speeches but have never heard one that succeeded in striking all the right notes and resonances for me until now. I am suspicious of the evangelical fervor which some seem to have about President Obama, remembering that the job of Savior has already and adequately been filled. I am aware that some people will not be able to let go of the ugliness of partisan politics –even for a day or two. I have seen a bumper sticker saying “You can keep the change. Palin in 2012”, and this before the new President has done anything! I expect that four years from now we will be back at it. In the meantime, I find myself moved and hopeful that America can once again be a great nation, --one that does not sacrifice fundamental values and principle for expediency in the moment, and one that continues to stand up to those who would create dissension and terror before building hope for their people.

Ironically, I found preachers and poet slightly tiresome (even though I have no argument with what they said today). Joseph Lowery could have quoted James Weldon Johnson and sat down. It would have been enough for me. Throughout the proceedings I found myself thinking about what it must be like to be watching this in Gaza or Zimbabwe or Bagdad or Khartoum or even Paris. How could anyone not be moved by regime change without guns? And not just regime change, but a really basic step forward a few days after martin Luther King Jr. would have celebrated his 80th birthday had he lived? I am as proud of this country as I have ever been and find myself willing to share in whatever the price turns out to be of confronting the challenges that confront us.

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