Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A response to a comment to "Barack Obama inauguration: isn't America just fantastic?"

This is in response to a comment Robin Edgar made to my previous post ; as is my wont, it ran too long for a comment.

Perhaps for you and I this was a "no brainer", Robin, but it was not for many UUs. Many- including a depressing number of ministers- said before the election that America was too racist to elect a black man. Some UUs said that there wouldn't even be elections, that Bush would declare martial law and cancel them. Some even said after the election that Bush would declare martial law before this day to prevent President Obama's inauguration. To paraphrase the President, they were clinging in their bitterness to an ugly vision of America.

I can understand- but not excuse- their bitterness. They have seen many ugly things in their lives, and so lost faith in their fellow man. Past injuries made them bitter and despairing. There is a reason it is said that despair is the ultimate sin, for when you lose hope, you stop striving. Despair is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despair is the loss of faith in both God and fellow man. It saddened me during this election season to see UUs writing as if they believed mankind in general, and America in specific, was irredeemable.

But then they haven't seen anything near as horrible as the things Abraham Lincoln saw, and he never lost faith. "Tell the people the truth," he said, "And they'll do the right thing." That is why I reacted so strongly to some of the blogposts I saw as misanthropic during the election season- for all their proclamations of a humanist faith in mankind, they expected only the worst, and presumed only the worst motivations for every action or stand they disagreed with.

Perhaps this is why, although I was moved by the inauguration, (I'm moved by every inauguration; if you think about it, it's kind of like a secular Yule ritual) I was not moved to tears as Ms. Kitty was. I knew this day was coming; America has been ready to elect an African American for decades; it's almost beyond question that Colin Powell would have been elected had he chosen to run. The only reason it hasn't happened before is that the leadership of both parties didn't believe it strongly enough to back credible candidates. The people, I believe, were well ahead of their leaders in this.

This, to me, is the real change President Obama brings. The people already knew this was possible; now the establishment knows, too.


Robin Edgar said...

I must say that *I* like this bit of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address for some reason -

"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand *if* you are willing to unclench your fist."

Everybody knows who *I* am thinking about here. . .

Joel Monka said...

Yeah, I hope Amadinejad was listening.