Today, I am sitting in the Student Center at UALR, in Little Rock, AR. I sit transfixed on the television screen in front of me, watching as the world embraces history in the making, my Spanish class, forgotten, at least in priority of attendance if not in thought.
Oh what a country we are. Where men rise and fall, not in glory or shame, but in peaceful humility and submission to the will of the people they serve.
Oh what a nation we are. Where such variety of thought and diversity of spirit do not divide, but inspire.
Oh what a people we are. Where hope cannot and will not be squelched, where trial and error are not disheartening, but challenging.
As I watch live this great tradition of peaceful revolution, (for what else can it be, when power changes hands, hearts, and mouths?) the beauty of the moment cannot be expressed in words, at least not well enough for someone like me, who depends on words to express all but ineffable spirit. But perhaps this is what that is. Change, real change, for the better or worse, is, when taken in the hearts of many, always surrounded by a sense of mysterious and awful energy.
I did not vote for Barack Obama, I did not vote against him either. Instead I voted my conscience, I voted according to who I thought would most uphold my most important priorities. But, I can honestly say, with a full heart, that though I may not agree with all policies and plans of the new administration, I am proud to inherit the traditions of such a crazed idea as democracy, and even more proud to be one of the first generations to receive this gift of real social progress. How can we not, no matter our political agendas, feel venerated and vindicated in the ideals that we share- freedom, justice, and unyielding hope in what can be accomplished with the will of human diligence and perseverance.
I am excited to see what happens in the next four (maybe 8 ) years. I am excited to see how these ideals manifest themselves in the actions and attitudes of not just the men and women in the inner gears of policy, but in the lives and thoughts of the populace as a whole.
Many have high hopes for the president. Many are skeptical and weary. Both will have reason to feel justified at one point or another. No president can be perfect, and there are sure to be both happy surprises and painful disappointments to all sides along the way. That is the way of having a human leading humans. The humanity of man can never be fully reigned in, nor should it, for it is our mistakes that teach us how to recover gracefully and our successes that teach us to be humble for it is never done alone.
Some might be surprised and/or disappointed with the very ceremony that ushered in this monumental circle of power. For instance, the controversial choice of Rick Warren, and his unapologetic invocation of the name of Jesus (in however many languages, doesn’t matter, it was still Jesus) has made waves among the secularists. Of course there is tension there, we are a nation after all, built on freedom of conviction and actions based thus. Yet, to those who might say that it is a violation of that freedom, for a pastor to, at a public forum, at the very pinnacle of populace determination and democracy, use the name of a specific god, or even to pray at all I have to say I disagree.
If Barack Obama feels that he, his presidency, and by extent our country will benefit from his receiving benediction from a trusted source, or even just a convenient one, then by all means, give it to him!
What is a prayer, if not an uttering of hope? A call for strength, a humble request and acknowledgement that a man is nothing without faith in something, even if it is man himself? Everyone places requests in something. It matters not, which god’s name is formed upon lips on public forum. It may have satisfied some more to invoke the name of democracy, of humanism, or what have you, but it is the same. In the heart, if it is a true prayer, it is not an exclusion of peoples, but a desperation, a demand for blessing, from whatever source it flows, for the progress of all people.
I have no idea if our new President Obama decided to ask Pastor Warren in an effort to reach out to the conservative base, or if he genuinely felt the need for his appeal to a Judeo-Christian god. It will be either shown or not shown in due time, but I hope that the choice that was made doesn’t overshadow the other memories to be held and kept, of this historic day.
We are a nation in becoming. be-coming. So my hope, my prayer if you will, for the next four years, is that we face this state of being, this evolution of the process of coming, with grace and tenacity and that we come together, not united in opinion but in ambition. Ambitious for bettering of ourselve, of the world, is a good thing to be-come.