On this historic day, inspired and humbled by Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration speech earlier today, I sit in my Brooklyn apartment still thinking of his words.
As a traveler who has witnessed suffering in various parts of the globe and harsh inequalities this world is plagued with, I feel grateful that the speech showed a sense of global solidarity and worldly awareness instead of the tunnel vision that has troubled this country for many years.
Barack speaks of America’s immigrant past: “…it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom. For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life”.
Obama speaks to the world: “And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more”.
Obama speaks of America’s diversity, one of its greatest strengths: “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
Barack speaks of turning to our fellow human beings, wherever in the world they may be, and lending a helping hand: “To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it”.
All I can say is: May these words echo in our minds, throughout this country and the world, for the years ahead of us.