I blew off work for an hour yesterday, sat down in front of our new big flat screen tv (Circuit City's bankruptcy is my husband's gain) that gets really good reception on HD channels even though we have no cable hook up, and watched everyone arrive at the inauguration, listened to the prayers, saw President Obama stumble through his oath, and then sat mesmerized as he gave his speech.
Barack Obama can speak. I know, we already knew that. But I mean, this man can speak. After the last two presidents, Bush, who fumbled words often, and Clinton, whose voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, listening to Obama speak is refreshing to this word girl.
It's no secret that I did not vote for Obama. I had a tough time choosing between the candidates. For the first time in a long time, I found that both candidates seemed worthy of the job. So when Obama won, I was not disappointed.
I found throughout the afternoon yesterday as I returned to my laptop and my writing, yet still mulling over what I had heard and seen on the TV, that I felt hopeful. And I wanted to have a different word for what I was feeling because this word girl did not want to have to use the clichéd "hopeful" when referring to President Obama. Yet, there was no other word. I am hopeful.
There are several reasons, but here is the one that keeps going through my mind. He inspires people to want to do good. He asked Americans to honor MLK this past Monday with a National Day of Service, and they did.
A kid in the junior high in my town came up with the idea to clean out the food pantry and organize it at a local church. There were about 25 kids there on Monday, including my two boys. These kids worked. In an hour and a half, all of the outdated food was weeded out, cans and boxes were organized into categories, floors were swept, and the pantry was ready for those who need it.
This happened because Obama suggested it.
After 9/11 there was a short period of good will in this country. People gave. People were grateful for the things they had. People were friendly. But something has happened in the 8 years since. I blame it on reality TV and social networking sites. Or maybe reality TV and social networking sites just reflect it. But people have gotten meaner.
But right now, people have an outpouring of good will again. And it's centered around the hope that they see in this man's leadership.
He's got high expectations to live up to. There are those who are more than hopeful. They are in a frenzied euphoria, believing that now that we have President Obama, all will be fixed. I think he tried to address that belief yesterday in his speech when he said
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
I wonder if those in this frenzied euphoria will have the patience to give him and his administration the time needed to properly address our problems or if they will begin to declare him a failure when their specific issues don't magically become "fixed."
There is much to be hopeful about on the green front.
He said things like
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity (this one made me actually shout out loud, "He's read Affluenza or at least someone on his speech writing staff has!)
that let us know the environment is part of his agenda.
After his inauguration, President Obama also put on hold all of the "midnight regulations" that the Bush administration put into place - many of them considered harmful to the environment.
So today, I am a clichéd hopeful. How about you?