I feel hope, a chance for a new beginning today as I watched Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration. Stepping into history as our nation’s first black president, he addressed an exuberant crowd of more than a million people stretching from what seemed to be “from sea to shining sea” …from the inaugural platform at the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial in the distance.
Obama, the son of a white, Kansas-born mother and a black, Kenya-born father, is seen as an enormously confident man with electrifying oratorical skills unmatched since JFK. The public’s hopes for Obama are extremely high as our nation is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. During his inaugural address, he shared many poignant moments, leaving many of us teary-eyed (myself included) and most, if not all of us, empowered:
He started by asking us as a nation to come together and choose “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord”. He continued by saying:
“Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed…Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America…Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. 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…
Our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace…
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why 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.”
President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009
So let’s pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and remake America. It starts by making a real difference in the lives of every individual placed in our life. It starts by leading “The Little Way”… doing many little deeds with great love.
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