Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Day and a Week in America

Tomorrow, Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th President of the United States. Power will be transferred peacefully from President George W. Bush, who has served us nobly under difficult circumstances these past eight years. This is quite an event on a number of levels.

The Inauguration has become the expected mother-of-all-crowded-events. Locally, we’ve been hearing non-stop reports for weeks on heavy security measures, changes to traffic and public transportation patterns, porta-potties, etc. Overnight, lying in bed, I can hear the sounds of fighter jets on patrol overhead to protect the capital, reminding me of the days after 9/11/01.

This Inauguration is definitely the fulfillment of a dream of inclusion in terms of race relations. I can remember as a child hearing of Martin Luther King, civil rights marches and the struggle against segregation. Hopefully, Obama’s presidency will irreversibly put many of the remaining racial divisions behind us.

Along with real differences over policies, there is a real risk, however, that expectations have been raised to such a euphoric level that no mortal human could meet, no matter how effective a leader. Obama himself is trying to temper expectations with reality. The difficult economic situation will add to the frustration of trying to maintain a spirit of unity while forming a policy that will revive our economy without doing more long term damage.

Most of all, no leader can unite the country while the gravest issues remain unresolved. The movement toward inclusion that enabled Barack Obama to reach the White House is undermined by violence committed against the most vulnerable among us: the unborn, the elderly and the disabled. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has bought into the lethally erroneous arguments that try to justify the denial of the right to life to some. He threatens to reverse the life affirming policies implemented by his predecessor and expand the imposition of abortion and other life denying practices. We should pray for his conversion on these matters.

Whatever our new president does, we as citizens have a responsibility to fight for the protection of every person’s life at every stage and condition. On Thursday, many thousands will once again peacefully assemble and participate in the annual March for Life and associated events, ensuring that these issues will not be ‘settled’ until every human being’s life and dignity is recognized.

The peaceful transfer of power and the people peacefully assembling to petition their government, both happening in America this week.

No comments: