Here we are. This is the day millions of us, around the world, have been waiting for for most of the last eight years. I’ve been glued to CNN, Huffington Post, and my local paper. Today, I read a column by Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, in which he asks “what are we so happy about?” Why does this change of power feel like one gigantic party? Tomorrow, we’ll still be at war. People will still be losing their jobs, and their homes. Children in Detroit and across the nation will still be going to bed hungry. The stock market and the Middle East can hardly be expected to start cooperating, just because we’ve elected this man with a funny name who promised change.
Is it the historical nature of Obama’s presidency? Sure. The magnitude of what has happened, my country electing a black man to the highest office (when a mere half-century or so ago, we still had a segregated South) is breathtaking. But it’s more than that.
Is it the whole notion of hope, and change, that Obama has promised us? That’s certainly part of it. I’m sure you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t realize that we need to make some radical, drastic changes in this country, from the way we manage our finances to the way we grow our food. Change is good, and necessary. Hope is important. Bill Clinton ran on hope, if you recall. I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of optimism, even then.
No, it’s something more. Obama has said, time and time again, that our challenges can be met, that we can change our world, but that we must take an active part in that change. We can not sit back and wait for change to happen. We need to make it happen. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
How empowering is that sentiment, when for the last eight years our government has ignored us, ridiculed our protests, questioned our patriotism, and bled us dry so that special interests could line their pockets?
How inspiring is it, to realize that we do, in fact, have a government of, by, and for the people?
How amazing is it to feel that your voice is being heard, that you have a stake in your country, and that working together, we can accomplish anything?
That’s what this inauguration means to me. We the people are present in our government again. May we have the sense to never let our government shut us out again.
In that spirit, here is, for me, the most poignant moment from the “We Are One” inaugural concert. I get chills every time I watch this clip: