Someone on my last blog posting asked for more insight into President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday, so I thought I’d make a few quick points.
Two parts of the speech stood out to me.
The first was when Obama talked about how “a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
I thought this line did two things: First, I thought it perfectly summed up the historic nature of the occasion.
Second, I thought it articulated the astounding progress this country has made in a relatively short period of time.
I mean, just think about that line. In 1948, if Barack Obama’s father had visited Washington D.C., he couldn’t have enjoyed a beer at Old Ebbitt’s Bar or used the bathroom in The Smithsonian Institute.
He wasn’t even allowed in those places.
But fast forward just two generations, and his son is the 44th president of the United States of America.
Incredible. Just incredible.
The second part that jumped out at me was when Obama alluded to Corinthians 13:11 from the Bible:
“The time has come to set aside childish things,” he said.
I thought this quote perfectly articulated Obama’s overall message since his campaign began: At this moment in crisis, and regardless of race, religion or political conviction, Obama needs the American people to set aside our petty squabbles, to forget about the mundane things Republicans and Democrats often fight about, and to focus on big issues where we have common ground.
Can he achieve these goals? I don’t know.
Obama has admitted he can’t change things by himself.
He has repeatedly said he needs the American people to make sacrifices: Republicans and Democrats needs to make political compromises; citizens needs to make lifestyle changes; citizens need to give service to their communities and their country.
“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility,” Obama said.
I believe if the American people and American leaders accept that responsibility, we can turn this country around together.
If we’re willing to get re-trained to work in factories dealing with green energies; if we’re willing to recycle; if we’re willing to change our lifestyles; if we’re willing to give military and community service; if we’re willing to make political compromises; if our leaders are willing to be honest and moral, and not fall into the traps of greed and excess; if we do all these things, then Obama’s presidency can be a great success.
He may have the vision, but we as American citizens have to carry that vision out.
And if we can’t, he may fail.
He may fail, much in the same way many of President Clinton and President Bush’s policies have failed in retrospect.
It’s on us.