Yesterday America honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who had a dream of a better nation, one where its citizens were judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. He decried oppression, offered hope and urged those involved in the civil rights movement to accept no less than what is right.
More than 45 years later, Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech still inspires, still rings of hope. In 1963, his words were addressed to African-Americans mired in the injustices of the day. Today, his words are relevant to a much larger audience.
Americans of all races and colors have watched as the American dream faded away on slippery slope of financial crisis, job losses, escalating health care costs, declining education expectations and fractured world respect.
As much as some of us would like to place the blame for the state of the union on George W. Bush, the truth is the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the American people. We sat back too long and let government policies happen to us. We let the dismal percentage of participating voters make our decisions for us. In alarming numbers, we stayed home from the polls.
When things went wrong, we blamed the politicians. When our elected officials went wrong, we dismissed their wrongdoings. "All politicians are crooked" became an accepted explanation for everything from "political favors" to the atrocities of Guantanamo.
But at some point the spirit that made this country great rose up and its citizens declared "Enough is enough." We knew we needed a change in leadership, a person who could see the big picture of America's place in the world, without being blind to the tiniest unit of what makes up the country, the individuals and families.
Who better to speak for all of us than a bi-racial, well-educated young man who was not born with a silver spoon? A man who values education, but also realizes the importance of all workers in the crazy quilt called America; who values family, but also realizes that not all families are defined by one mother, one father and 2 and a half children; who speaks strongly for his party and at the same time calls for the best to step up to serve regardless of party affiliation, ethnic background, age or gender.
Americans voted in Barack Obama by a record-breaking margin. For many this vote was their first step in taking back their country.
Obama will not please everyone, he will not solve all our problems this week, he is not a magic cure-all, but he is a practical man with good intentions and the intelligence to put them into action. He is a step in the right direction. Americans have to remember that our role in the political process did not end in the voting booth. We must be in step beside our leader to move in the right direction.
We have a new leader, we have a new hope. Like Rev. King, America has been to the mountaintop, we've looked over and have seen the Promise Land.
Barack Obama has already done what many said was impossible. From here on in, the climb back to peace and prosperity will be rough, but within our reach.
The campaign battle cry is more important now than ever. Can we fix it?
Yes, we can.