By Jim Selman | Bio
It’s been a long 8 years and now we begin again, but with a lot more on our plate. The list of challenges grows daily, the costs keep rising, the numbers of jobless and homeless Americans and others throughout the world are growing. And yet, the mood today is very festive and enthusiastic. I am in Buenos Aires and, judging by the mood in most of the coffee shops, you’d think that Barack was their new president. I cannot remember an inauguration with so much pageantry and expectation. The planners have outdone themselves to create a sense of inclusiveness, even at the risk of pissing off some of the hardcore ideologues that are still more committed to being ‘right’ than to having a united America that might just pull together enough to dig ourselves out of the current hole we are in.
I remember marching in January 1961 as a young cadet in JFK’s inauguration. It was the coldest winter in memory. Between the ice and the blowing snow, I didn’t get to see much except the back of the guy in front of me. Even so, I can still remember the sense of pride and patriotism I felt being a part of what was to become a time of renewed hope and inspiration. Those were the times when the ‘best and the brightest’ sought public service. JFK’s challenge to “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” resonates today as a call for personal responsibility and participation in our common cause.
Barack’s campaign rhetoric is now fading as he begins to lead all of us to make history. The future will be a function our action—your action and my action—individually and collectively. If we can put partisan politics and ideological brinksmanship behind us and support and empower our new President regardless of how we voted, then together our actions can deliver on the change that we all voted for.
Inaugurations are symbolic occasions. They herald the passing of power and remind us that it is our votes that determine who will raise his hand and swear a centuries’ old oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America. BHO’s choice of the Lincoln-like train ride from Philadelphia not only emulates his personal hero and one of our greatest presidents, but also reminds us that his greatness was in the face of a divided America.
Today we are again a divided America—not North and South, but Red and Blue. Our great cultural divide today is not about slavery. It is about ideas and beliefs. It is about the possibility of living together in a civil way even when our ideas and beliefs seem to conflict with those of our fellow citizens.
I am sure that our president elect must feel a profound humility as he steps forward to offer himself and his life for a vision of an America that includes and can work for everyone. An America that is bigger than cynical opportunism, self-interest and greed. An America in which people of all ages, cultures and beliefs can work together to create a society that works for everyone. My prayers (and I am sure your hopes or prayers) are with our new President on this exceptional day.
Today is a defining moment for all of us.