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 expediency’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.
I know for people not passionate about US politics it seems like, “Enough already!” But in spite of the prevailing cynicism, I feel hopeful for the first time in a long time about the state of things. I still believe things are probably gonna get a whole lot worse before they get worse, but then they are gonna get better. And at least we have a person willing to face problems and articulate possibilities for coping with them in charge. Barack Obama is now the President.
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 again the work of remaking America.
People keep saying that the expectations placed on President Obama are so great the only probable outcome is failure.
[Could someone please tell me when it became so uncool to be enthusiastic???]
To this I say, pragmatism and expectations are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I think pragmatism + expectations = RESPONSIBILITY. I know from experience that when I place the highest expectations on my students two things happen: First they get super irritated that they have something to live up to… that someone has said, “I believe you can do this,” and so they must also face their own potential. Second, they step up and meet, and often exceed, those expectations… they feel (reticently) proud of the belief in their abilities and then they become protective of that belief… responsible for its maintenance. And that is cool. I firmly believe that PRESIDENT Obama is up for the cup. The world is watching, but this time they are not rolling their eyes.
Though I am aware that cynicism is ‘the new black,’ I watched millions of people around the world celebrate the inauguration of not just a man, but inspiration yesterday. My parents wept at the vision of a nation they believed in, in spite of how it has occasionally failed them. My students were amazed at the excitement, the fervor, the realization that they finally have something to believe in and no longer have to say, “Man, I wish I could have been around back when we could make a difference…” And to the cynics that are out there… the ones who say, with a little gleam in their eye… “Looks like a little shine is wearing off your man, eh?” I say… What’s your point?? I believe. And if you don’t, you are missing one hell of a paradigm shift. Allow yourself the freedom to be all those things America has been built up to be. SI SE PUEDE!
Today I woke up hopeful.
And that is a pretty good feeling.
One sunny day in January, 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
The Marine looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’
The old man said, ‘Okay,’ and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
The Marine again told the man, ‘Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’
The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, this is the third day in row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?’
The old man looked at the Marine and said, ‘Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.’
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, ‘See you tomorrow, Sir.’