Friday, January 23, 2009

Reflections On A Momentous Day

Tuesday was the kind of day that simply could not be spent in solitude. Every fiber of my being yearned to be in a public place, in as large a crowd as possible, all witnessing and celebrating together the dawn of a new era in America. So the three of us got up early, hopped on a bus, and headed down to Civic Center, where we watched the inauguration on a jumbotron out in the sunshine with a few hundred friends and fellow citizens.

I admit I had been feeling a little queasy about all the hype and hero worship, mostly because I feared our national expectations getting out of control. As far as I have been able to determine, Barack Obama is not, and has never claimed to be, capable of healing the sick (although if he can get the economy back on its feet, that would count as a miracle), raising the dead (with the possible exception of our international reputation), or walking on water (ah -- I got nothin').

But once we got out there in that crowd, I started tearing up and couldn't stop crying for the next two hours. I was struck, not just by the change taking place in Washington, but by the change taking place in ourselves.

Now, this is a town that is, to put it mildly, rather fond of protests. Everybody's got a cause. But on Tuesday morning, just for that one day, there were no "Stop the slaughter in Gaza" signs in the crowd, no would-be freers of Mumia, no anti-brown apple moth spray faction. For a brief moment, we weren't anti- anything. We were resoundingly and earnestly pro. Pro-democratic process. Pro-Obama, certainly. Pro-peace, pro-diplomacy, pro-family, pro-science, pro-equality. And dare I say it? Pro-American.

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