For those, like us, who were impressionable children when JFK took office (Wayne was eleven, I was seven) and then when JKF, MLK, and then RFK were assassinated, with LBJ in office, this moment is more than a hopeful one for the new generation (our children); it is also a profoundly healing one for those of us in-between.
During the inaugural speech, when Obama said these words:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.That is when the tears came and they represented relief beyond hope, as well as grief. It has been with increasing sorrow that I watched our now former president compromise that very charter in the face of terrorism, taking, along with his cronies, a reactionary, misguided and hawkish stance – resembling a drunken John Wayne running the bad guys out of town. It was reminiscent of a bad western movie - maybe Bush aspired to Reagan’s model of leadership, but the timing was off and the script just didn’t read true.
At the same time, to give Bush Jr. some credit, he had the unfortunate task of leading our country during a time in which "the sins of our fathers" would come to light and thank God for that. For that reason, I am grateful for the bad times – for I believe they have served and will continue to serve to bring about change we can trust. With that change comes a new beginning and a new light to shine on our country, as both example and inspiration to the world – with that change comes a spirit that is both old and new, its roots in our founding fathers and mothers, the spirit of service and of unity in the face of great need.
There is no room or excuse for the greed and corruption in which our leaders have taken part and that we the people have been complicit in by very virtue of that charter that tells us we have the power to say no. We did not say no, or if and when we did, we did not say it loud enough.
It is with our new President Barack Obama and his leadership that we may now find the courage and the hope, as people, to offer an enthusiastic yes to change, change that represents no less than the radical spirit of that charter in which our country was founded, and a resounding and firm no to anything less.