In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reflections on the Inauguration

I would be remiss not to observe the historic event that occurred today in our nation's capital. We can truly be proud that a person "of color" has been inaugurated President of the United States. Not very many years ago, this would have been inconceivable. I hope and pray that this event all but closes the most evil, destructive chapter in American history: the mass kidnapping, enslavement, and oppression of millions of African human beings and their descendants. This was truly the darkest stain on America. If we haven't completely washed it away (and while we must get beyond the past, we should never forget it), perhaps we're finally well on our way to doing so. Mr. Obama's election has shown that for most of us--and I believe it's the vast majority--race doesn't mean a thing, even when choosing someone for the most powerful and prestigious leadership position in the world. Is it too much to hope that the professional race-baiters and race-haters can all now be sent to an Old Irrelevancies' Home somewhere, so far away that their whining and venom can't be heard any more? Are we finally on the verge of a nation in which, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous phrase, all people, whites as well as blacks and others races, will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character? Can we finally regard ourselves as one national family, or will this just become an occasion for power-tripping by some and bitter withdrawl by others?

I was impressed with the new President's inaugural speech. There was much in it about responsibility and about the old but true things, which must be remembered and re-embraced as we move forward together. You can read the full text here. But I'd like to quote a few passages that I thought were especially compelling:
. . . In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, 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 towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

. . . We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

. . . [T]hose values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

. . . In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
President Obama deserves our honest support and the benefit of the doubt, at least for now. Let us pray that what he spoke today were not empty words, but wisdom springing from true historical insight and real conviction. Let us hope that in pursuing "change we can believe in," his administration will respect individual freedom, the Constitution, bedrock social institutions, and our free enterprise system. If our new President strays in the future from the lofty vision embodied in his inaugural speech, by trying to exchange our liberties for economic security or our institutions for a "values-free" society pleasing to his far-left supporters, let us be there to remind him of what he said today.

1 comment:

The Tom and Donna Johnson Family said...

Hi Tom~

Just a note to let you know that I have been enjoying your thoughtful posts. I am glad you let us know about it (in your Christmas letter).
Donna Johnson
Elko, NV