Our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. . . Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
– Barack Obama, inaugural speech, Jan. 20, 2009
This, right here, is why, for the first time in my life, I actually feel good about an American president. Why I have hope about our government for the first time in years. Why I’m glad I used a vacation day to sit on the couch and watch TV yesterday.
On the occasion, once every 4 or 8 years, that is a celebration of American strength, power, and pride, we see our new president speaking of humility, of peace, of moral leadership, this is something remarkable.
Past presidents have used occasions such as these to speak of crushing our enemies, of wanting people dead or alive, of grand government promises that turned out to triple the national debt.
Obama spoke of extending the hand of friendship to anyone that would unclench their fist.
He spoke that we had kicked the can down the road too far, and now we’ve reached the end of the road. We have to stop thinking that we can have everything: low taxes, expensive programs, and a large military, simply by mortgaging our future.
And he leveled with us: we all are in this together, and all have to work to make it better.
Conventional politicians assumed it would be political suicide to say even half of what Obama has said. Yet he went out there and did it.
He was blasted during the campaign by people on both sides of the political spectrum for being just “words”. He’s the first presidential candidate that meant what he said about bringing Americans, and their representatives, together. The shock in Washington has he invited — gasp! — both an openly gay bishop and an anti-gay evangelical minister to give prayers was telling. It’s as if people were saying, “Wait, he really MEANT that?”
Yes, he did. Let’s hope he can pull it off.
And as Rev. Lowry concluded with his benediction:
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream. . .
Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. (amen) Say Amen! (Amen!) Say Amen! (AMEN!)