Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Dream of America

I finally got to sit down last evening and see footage from the events of Tuesday January 20, 2009. A usual I have comments :-). Yes, I realize that my reflections are but a minuscule drop in a huge river...still...

As I await the unfolding of the Obama administration I do so as one with serious differences on several issues. I worry over the possible signing of the Freedom of Choice Act, the reversal of the the Defense of Marriage Act, and resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine.

Having said that, and being on record as having the opposite view than the Democratic Party on these and other issues, I offer some reflections upon the Inauguration of Barack Obama.

When I think of the idea of the the "American "Dream" I think not of bourgeois comfort and social values but of opportunity for all. Specifically I think of the opportunity that any person, of whatever race or socio-economic status or gender or creed - the opportunity that any person has to achieve great things. This is the hope that America offers. This is the hope embodied in Obama's election and inauguration.

Several recent events have given me a sense of peace in the moment, despite the passion I may have for the issues above.

First, there is the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 last week. It is nothing short of astounding to consider that a commercial airliner filled with 150 people could make an emergency landing on water with no serious casualties or fatalities. Yes, it is a dangerous thing to try to interpret Providence. But I had and have this sense that what happened with Flight 1549, coming as it did right at the end of the Bush administration and just before the Obama administration has significance, that it means something, and something good for our country. I cannot prove that and I may be wrong, but this is what is rolling around in my mind and heart.

Second, the fact that a million plus people could assemble in Washington DC and that there would be no arrests, no major injuries, and no attempts to do mischief also astounds me. Again, I ask, why?

Third, watching people all over the world watching and celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama is incredible to me. I think these people, our neighbors in other countries, are celebrating with us the amazing significance of a black American rising to the office of the President. It is almost as if Obama were the president of the world the way so many are celebrating. And maybe in a sense he is. It just seems right to me that he be our leader at this time.

Fourth, the graciousness of George and Laura Bush is noteworthy to me. I have always felt that George Bush a decent human being in a way many people are not. We needed his graciousness. Obama needed it. Obama has had - and still has - enough to worry about given all the issues we face as a nation. It is worth noting how unusual in the world today it is to have such a peaceful transition especially from one party to another. Again, this peaceful transition of power also embodies the hope that is the United States of America.

Fifth and finally President Obama said things in his inaugural address that needed to be said, things which only he could say with credibility. He was not merely sailing past us on the empty clouds of rhetoric. He was calling us all, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican to action, to responsibility, to united effort. In such times that is the right thing to do, and he did it very well.

These things all give me hope. Yes, if I wake up tomorrow and the Freedom of Choice Act is signed into law, the reversal of the the Defense of Marriage Act has succeeded, and the Fairness Doctrine is making itself to the President's desk, I will despair. I hope Obama finds the middle ground on these issues. We'll see. Mean time I watch, hopefully.


aimless said...

Joel, I really liked what you wrote about Obama. I probably differ quite significantly with you on issues, but we are united in our belief that he is the right person at the right time.

I was so moved by the way other people were moved yesterday. Something is afoot here that is greater that each individual and greater that individual issues. There is a sense of togetherness that Obama has helped create that is necessary for this country to move forward.

If all he has given us is hope, isn't that enough?

Joel said...

Yes, something is afoot, that's what I sense as well.

betsy clark said...

Joel, I agree with you on the issues you stated first. I did not vote for him because of my strong convictions on these issues. My prayer is that the morale boost Obama's historic election has given to our country will inspire all American's to a greater sense of personal responsibility, and that will do our country good. I also hope with you that he finds middle ground on the issues you first stated.

The Logistician said...

A very nice piece. And well articulated.

I told Brenda Bowers (And So I Go, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow), here in Greensboro, who is a regular reader of my blog, that I wanted to locate other local bloggers who generated articles which stimulated thought, and she suggested that I visit your blog. I have to say that she was correct. I enjoyed the visit and plan to return with some degree of regularity.

Although I was not personally a big fan of George Bush's "style" (which to me conveyed a sense of discomfort and trying too hard), I, like you, was very impressed with the graciousness displayed by him and his wife to the incoming couple. In a way, he almost looked relieved to leaving the problems to someone else.

I generated a piece with my thoughts of the new president, which you may find to be of interest in case you visit my blog. It is entitled, "The Morning After."