Tuesday, January 13

Will Obama Get Us to Step Up Our Game?

The stakes for President-Elect Obama's stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are exceptionally high, as are the expectations of this nation. We are in the crossroads. On the one hand, we are are in dire economic straits, embroiled in wars that challenge us, and have an environmental crisis that demands our full attention; on the other hand, we have seen history made and have the leadership and opportunity to build a legacy that lives up to promise of a free people.

It is fitting irony that Barack Obama will begin his job the day after fallen Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King's life is celebrated. To say that Obama is standing on the shoulders of a giant is not crediting either his own accomplishments or ours as a nation. And, without Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, there could not have been a President Obama. Nor without Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson could we shed our oppressive past.

But there is much to do and very little time to reflect on our past. The Inauguration is heralded as historic, and rightly so. However, it is historic not only because of what has happened before, but because it marks what will be and what must come next.

And what will come? Congress has got to act decisively to pass legislation that helps people back to work, to keep their homes, to take care of their kids, and to improve the global environment. It must work with President Obama to roll back the damage done from the excesses of both the Clinton and Bush eras. The petty nature of politics has to be challenged to produce results.

And then, will we as Americans and world citizen's also do our part. Will we forego our lesser needs to address those huge needs that loom ahead? Will we move past our consumer-based view of government and participate in our democracy by fixing those things that government can't and supporting those things that government can?

We can not expect that any one person can make things better for the rest of us, if we don't join the march. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that it wasn't the time that King spent in the Birmhingham jail that made the change to civil rights or the march on Selma, it was Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders, and the good acts by millions of nameless people that were inspired by King that caused the walls to tumble down. Now come the time to build up.
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