Well it certainly has been an historic day. You all know that I supported & voted for Barack Obama, but regardless of who you voted for, I trust we can all agree that there is an amazing historical significance to seeing an African American sworn in as President of the United States. Our nation was founded on the belief that “all men are created equal,” but it took almost 100 years until black slaves were freed and another 100 years until segregation was eliminated. While Barack Obama’s election will not rid us of all racism, hopefully, it is a sign that our nation is moving to a place where we will all be able to look at one another as God does – without color.
As for the Inaugural address itself, what struck me the most was the focus President Obama placed on the responsibility of us as citizens. So many times, our politicians tell us what they will do for us, but never what is required of us. I found it curious that the Biblical passage he referenced was I Corinthians 13:11, which says “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
Was he calling America childish? I think so. Consider he went on to say, “[W]e understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.” It sounded to me like he was telling America that the reality TV culture of 15 minute fame had to end and we all had to get serious if we wanted to correct our troubles.
Another passage from his speech: “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship.”
When he was running for President, Obama said that he would have an honest dialogue with us as Americans about what is required. It seems as though he started with his inaugural address. Our nation has become one where people have become too comfortable and not willing to make sacrifice. In order to truly fix the problems we have as a nation, sacrifice will be necessary. With the good will he has, I hope that President Obama follows up with specifics of what we will need to do. He has already called us to increased public service, but we will need to do more. Since today was about celebrating equality in America, let us all look for how we can all sacrifice so that we can better our country.