In a hymn we sing at church at this time of year, “I am the light of the world,” the first stanza says:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and the shepherds have found their way home,
the work of Christmas is begun.
I thought of this hymn on Inauguration Day, and the days since. (No, I’m NOT comparing Obama to Jesus.)
Although I had a busy day at work on January 20, I did manage to sneak a frustratingly-slow and choppy peek at Obama’s swearing in and speech – I’m guessing that millions of others tried to log in a noon, with the same result (we finally got in through an Australian television site). Don & I pvr’d (in the US, dvr’d) several hours of the broadcast for watching Tuesday night, though, so we could watch the highpoints uninterrupted.
I found Obama’s speech both challenging and comforting, especially lines such as –
Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
[K]now 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.
Perhaps most reassuring to me:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
But cynicism doesn’t depart easily, especially after the last 8 years. As a result, I was even more interested in Obama’s actions in the next 24, 48, 72 hours. He didn’t disappoint, and if he keeps it up, my cynicism may be reduced substantially. To wit:
- The announcement that military judicial proceedings at Guantanamo Bay had been suspended, followed very shortly by the news that Gitmo would be closed in a year;
- Banning torture;
- Loosening rules on women’s reproductive rights;
- Working on the economy
- Solid appointments, including special envoys to troubled locations and at the Department of Justice.
Like the hymn, when the lights go out at the inaugural balls, the work of the administration is just beginning. In Obama’s case, it started even before Beyonce finished ballading the new First Couple.
I have a scarf that my mother gave to me several years ago – it’s got red & white stripes, and a field of white stars on a blue background. I take it out on July 4 – but in the past few months, it’s seen more wearing: Election Day, my first day back in Canada after the election, Inauguration Day, and today at church.
It feels sooooo good to be proud to be an American again.
Now, if only President Obama would call me to be Ambassador to Canada.