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Monday, January 21, 2013

Not there Yet...But Still Moving Forward

So no surprise if you have read some of my other postings, I am a liberal. Today is both Martin Luther King Day and the President's second inaugural. Today Barack Obama stood on the Mall and hearkened back to the principles that once guided the creation of this nation. In his short life Martin Luther King Jr. often tried to bring us back to these same principles. Today as I watched a man, that agree or disagree with his politics, you can't deny is the embodiment of the American Dream. For every single mother watching, or grandmother raising their mixed grand baby, they could hold them close and truly believe, what in the past they might have thought a hollow promise. "Your destiny is not decided. You are more than the sum of your circumstances. You can be President one day." Only this time, today, they can say, "see he is."

Following our run this morning a radio station was playing a lesser known King speech about the interconnection of the world. My husband and I were lamenting that it has been 50 years and somethings haven't changed. As we entered the house and my husband turned on the inauguration and we watched in silence. I wondered if he thought what I thought. Some things have changed. We aren't where King dreamed we would be, or even where I believe most Americans want us to be, but we do get closer. Today I was moved in a different, less visceral way than 4 years ago.

I can admit I was one of those who watched the inauguration of our first black president, though racially mixed, clearly African American, and wept.  Frankly I had two thoughts. First, I never thought I would live to see it and second I had an impending sense of dread for him and his family. I worried that he might face a fate similar to: Abraham Lincoln, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy. Those who stood up and called for us to live a life better than our self interest and fears, and found it hastened the end of their lives.

Today I was moved to see what is the embodiment of America, the one we can be in our best moments. The one where the little boy of questionable mixed origins, missing father, unwed mother, partially raised by a grandmother can work hard, get a scholarship, have a dream and stand before a nation and remind us of guiding principles we sometimes set aside.

It is all of that possibility that I am reminded of today, that makes me angry when we fail to rise to it. It is the love of everything we could be, that makes me question when we fall so far below that possibility. When we don't make education a priority.  When we act like we have dominion over a fragile ecosystem.  When we subjugate someone's rights because of our own discomfort. When we don't put helping the least among us to rise above our own self-interest that  I am reminded of Maya Angelou's quote.  "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

I promise no more soap box.  Just a reminder today that we can be more than we are when we live up to the possibilities inherent in this Country and stand up to fear, ignorance and prejudice with love, tolerance, and compassion. 

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