Obama- ‘Hope over fear

I can’t help shaking my head at all the pundits declaring that Obama didn’t deliver any quotable quotes in his inaugural speech. If anything, his speech contains an embarrassment of quotable riches. Just listen to the first minute and a half of Obama’s inaugural speech above. Just listen.

We have chosen hope over fear. Oh, yes, yes we have. We’ve lived in fear for a lot longer than the last eight years – and no president since Kennedy has given us HOPE. We have been on the defensive. We have lived with the Cold War, with the fear of creeping Communism, with the Vietnam war, with the fear of terrorists, with the looming fear of the other shoe dropping. The biggest hope that any president has offered us is the hope of staving off the wolf at the door. The truth is that we can only live up to our highest hopes – and Obama has set our eyes on the stars again.

It is time to put aside childish things. In short, grow up, America. As a nation and as individuals we have been acting like spoiled children, indulging ourselves in the moment, allowing greed and bitterness to separate us and prevent us from working together. Reverend Eugene Rivers, in speaking with Chris Matthews after the speech, said that all over the country this Sunday, pastors would be preaching on the text that Obama chose to quote. He pointed out that the subtext of that speech is very clear to those who regularly attend black churches – Obama, he says, was delivering the message that it’s time to grow up and take responsibility, to be accountable for our actions, to act like adults. Hear, hear!

Our greatness is not a given, it is earned. How very refreshing it was to hear that from the leader of our nation. The notion of American exceptionalism, as touted by Sarah Palin on the campaign trail, has flown as our standard since the Reagan years. Our nation is not great simply because it is great. We do not have a God-given exception to the rule that respect must be earned. It is time that our leaders understood that – and Obama has made it clear that he DOES understand that. When he said that we will remake America and restore her greatness, he made it clear that his administration will take accountability and earn back the respect of the rest of the world.

Last night, as my son and I listened to clips from the inaugural speech, Jared stopped time and again to say, “Mom, isn’t that from your poem?” “Hey, mom, you said that!” “Mom, that’s like when you wrote…” I’ve been waiting for Barack Obama all my life – a president who believes in the same things that I believe and lives his life by those beliefs. He is, like me, a practical idealist – or, if you prefer, an idealistic pragmatist – who believes that you do what you can at the moment and never take your eyes off the stars you hope to reach.

Starting today… we are a nation under a leader who believes that every person, every single person, in this nation has a right to every opportunity we have to offer. And it’s about time.

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