Mixed Emotions

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Though I am one to refrain from politics in mixed company, one who prefers to avoid controversy, I want my opinions and emotions at this changing point in history recorded. I'm not sure I'll even post this, but I want it on record at least for my own sake. If I offend, it is truly not intentional.

I just finished watching the Inauguration kick-off concert and it has evoked a mixture of emotions in response. Immense pride, anticipation, curiosity, disappointment, skepticism, and hope.

Pride: Pride in my country for uniting under an umbrella of support and excitement, not allowing tragedy or disparity to be the only events which draw us together. Pride that racial barriers continue to crumble. Pride that a huge population of this country have finally realized the dream of being represented by a man who has known their racial struggle, not just empathized with it. Pride that our country may once again be seen by those who haven't agreed with us as leaders in something good.

Anticipation: This past election cycle lasted and lasted... It seems that Obama's presidency has been a long time coming. For all of the promises and expectations, which will he fulfill? Which won't he? We've heard his speeches, we've heard the rhetoric. What will actually come of his leadership? On some promises, I hope he follows through; on others, I hope he does not. I am interested to see.

Curiosity: I watch this crowd of millions on the Mall and wonder how long this unity will last. Will it fade with the emotions when the reality of a country trying to overcome difficult times settles back in? Will the unity of experiencing history fade as everyone falls back into their divisions, just as many did in the mere months following 9/11? Will it fade as Obama begins to make real decisions, hard decisions, ones where no one wins? Or will we support him, try to understand him, even in times when we don't agree? I hope it is the latter.

Disappointment: What a difference it makes when a country supports their President. What a difference it makes when celebrities, media, and everyday people choose to see a man's good intentions and forgive him his faults. I don't suggest our current administration is faultless or that we shouldn't question our government, but I am truly disappointed in the huge sect of the country who never accepted George Bush as their president, and who have failed to acknowledge his sincere intentions to keep us safe, regardless of the failures and difficulties that resulted. I am disappointed that many can find no good in a good man who made hard decisions, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Disappointed that many fail to understand the difference between disagreeing and disrespecting. I respect President-elect Obama and only wish my counterparts had done similarly for President Bush. What a difference it makes when a President has the respect of his country.

The term "American renewal" was used this afternoon and I was disappointed to hear it. I believe the election of a black president contributes to America's greatness. But to say we are now renewed or restored because of this election suggests that we were once finished, dead, destroyed. Our country has faced tragedies and decisions that many of our younger generations have never faced. Because the world, or even our own citizens, disagree does not negate what America has tried to stand for and has stood for since the ground was lain by our Founding Fathers. We are not renewed, we are bettered.

Skepticism: Since the election results came in, I've continually needed to remind myself that this ongoing celebration is not over the failure of one candidate or one party, but the celebration of the first black president, the celebration of a people once beaten, abused, and enslaved, now fully empowered, many fully realizing for the first time the limitless world of opportunities that await them. But from a few, I sense some "ninny, ninny, boo boo," thumb in your face, celebrations of a party's failure that are done under the guise of celebrating a moment in history. I am skeptical of the sincerity of the revelry of only handful of those cheerleaders (who will remain nameless), but skeptical nonetheless. To better summarize my thoughts, how much of this is really about Obama, the first black president, and how much of this is about Obama, the Democrat who took back the presidency, the one who finally beat the Republicans, the one who will finally replace Bush? I know, this may rub a few the wrong way, to question the excitement of some in this time in history, but it does occasionally cross my mind. Just being honest.

Hope: No, not hope in Obama. Not hope in our government. Not hope in my country. My faith, my sense of security, my hope lies in Christ Jesus. I hope that through my leaders, government, and fellow citizens God will work and will restore His people, that we will look only to Him to heal our disunity. No, I don't hope for theocracy, I just long for people to understand that while we lay our trust and hope in man, we will continue to be disappointed and divided. I want less hope in Obama and more hope in Him. I truly hope that our country is better off in the coming years. I hope that our standing in the world is redeemed. I hope we learn from our past and present troubles. I wish my president well and pray for his success, but my hope is in the name of the Lord.

I hope this wasn't too controversial (if Tyler ever runs for office, he will probably make me delete this. :)). It was my intention to respectfully convey and document my opinions and emotions during this time of history, not to offend or disgruntle. My best to you both, President Bush and President-elect Obama.

(Side note: I realize my posts have been quite lengthy lately. I intend to cut back, but didn't feel this was the right topic with which to start!)

Update: I missed the beginning of the concert, just watched it, and have a new emotion: annoyed. Denzel Washington, who I adore, made a statement congratulating those who campaigned and voted for Obama because they achieved a government that is "truly" by the people and for people. Perhaps I'm being too sensitive, but I read between the lines and hear him suggest that had the majority vote gone to anyone else, it would not have been a government by the people or for the people. That annoys me, offends me, and is the kind of statement that divides people. I believe we can all celebrate a new president and a turning point in history without being divisive. There are two major parties and but one president. Every few years, a new leader will be elected. One party wins, one loses. To ever suggest that one party only truly represents the voice and attitude of Americans, that only true democracy exists when your candidate wins, displays flawed reasoning and poor sportsmanship. Those kinds of statements and insinuations annoy me to no end. Overall, it was a great concert, but it had it's moments. And I do love Denzel...

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