A few months ago, my friend and I were talking after class and he said, "You know, this is the first election I can remember where I've been embarassed or afraid to ask people who they support. It's like it's you're asking how much they weigh or something".
Barack Obama was sworn in today as the 44th president of the United States of America. There are plenty of strong opinions percolating among us. This is absolutely a good thing. I know a lot of you are, let's say, less than excited about what happened in this election. Others of you are apathetic, and some of you feel like he couldn't get into office fast enough.
There's a few things I hope all of us can remember today.
Firstly, take a look at how far this country has come. 200 years ago we were trapped in the mire of slavery and oppression. I say "we" because slavery is detrimental not only to those enslaved, but to the entire society. My parents were born when we were a segregated society. Now a man who would have been denied a seat on a bus is the leader of the free world.
Secondly, I believe that debate is healthy. That is the beauty of America. Checks and balances are an essential part of our government. They were instated in order to prevent suffering under the kind of tyranny that the colonies experienced under the rule of Britain. Everyone is welcome to disagree. I'm afraid; however, that our opinions, although often justified, blind us from the truth and the things that are most important.
I believe that we are all children of the same God. You're welcome to disagree with me on this, but whether you believe we're children of God, the latest version of the homo genus, or that we were planted here by extra-terrestrials, it is hard to make a case that we're not all the same. We all love, cry, want, sweat, work, play, live, and hope. That we may all have the unhindered opportunity to do so is the purest form of the American dream.
I hope that we all take the opportunity to hope for a better world. I know President Obama has used this word a lot. Couldn't we all use a little more hope? Hope that your children grow up violence free. Hope that the economy will get better. Hope that your neighbor will come home safely from Iraq. Hope that you do okay on your finals. Hope for the best your life can be.
Today is a day of hope. Come together. Take a step back from your routine. Make a new beginning. Work to make your life and those of your loved ones a little better. Smell a flower, play with the dog. Read Dr. King's "I Have Dream Speech". Tickle your little siblings, neices, or nephews. Get to know your neighbors. Volunteer. Reach out to those whose heads hang down. Read a book to a child. Do whatever you can to improve your community. Smile at total strangers.
Coming together and working for a better tomorrow is what this day is all about. Celebrate your freedom. Keep in mind those who don't have it. Celebrate the peaceful transfer of power. Be grateful. Pursue your happiness. If you don't do it now, who will?
Today is a new beginning. There's a rough road ahead. Won't it be better if we all go down it together?