There’s no way I won’t write about the great thing that happened in Washington, D.C., earlier today.
At the risk of being gimmicky, I’ve organized my emotions into the five strongest I felt watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The occasion is more dignified than the contents of most top five lists, but right now that’s not for me to care about.
5) I absolutely felt a sense of Relief, all through the proceedings and for several different reasons. I was relieved that the Bush administration had finally come to an end. I was relieved that Obama’s election ten weeks ago turned out to be not just a hope or a fervent prayer, but an actual, bona fide happening cemented into history by a short but sacred oath and a clock striking noon eastern time. I was relieved when I heard “Hail to the Chief” and realized I no longer had to cringe in disrespect at the monster to whom the song was then dedicated. So much indignation was washed away by the wave of the new hope. The cause for that indignation still persists, rooted in my mind and heart, but the weight of it that had settled squarely on my shoulders had been removed as if with the flick of a wrist.
4) Joy – an emotion that went beyond appreciation of how fortunately things had seemed to turn out, beyond mere happiness. It was actually a selfless kind of happiness, where I was more delighted for our nation as a whole, and for the great numbers of individual citizens, than for my own well-being. I didn’t feel smug, I didn’t gloat. I didn’t pity anyone. I felt like things would be better for all of us.
3) Pride – Now that I’ve written that I wasn’t gloating, I can say that I’m proud that my guy won. I played a bit part in that story, but a part nonetheless. Some argue that a Democratic vote in New York is worthless. I wonder how much that vote would be worth if dangerously few people voted. What Obama does now is up to him and the government within the government, but we all got him there. It took millions of blow darts to bring down this huge Elephantine regime, and one was mine. I’ll add that I’m also proud of the majority of Americans for doing the sensible thing.
2) I was generally and genuinely feeling Amazement while watching the event. I was amazed at how quickly it seemed to move, from the parties getting into their cars a pair at a time, to the speeches, the oaths, the songs, the readings. Time moved along with quick indifference, as if hurrying the proceedings along to keep them fresh, keep emotions high and really just make the whole darn thing official already. Eight years was long enough, but the ten weeks since Election Day could not pass quickly enough for whoever was pacing the Inauguration.
1) A sense of Justice. I cannot deny my feelings, which in this rare case border on the objective, that justice was served today. It wasn’t the kind of justice passed along by judges, vengeance in the name of fairness, when an eye for an eye doesn’t quite work and comparing apples to oranges just leaves a bad taste behind. No, this justice is apparent and needs no deconstruction. A more qualified man won the election over a less qualified man, and has taken over for another less qualified man.
Our new President is compassionate, and anyone who hears him speak knows he has this quality, and not just because he claims to. He has used, and will continue to use, the high intelligence that sets him apart from us in so many ways, to bring us all together as one nation of people. Justice seems to have been served to the new President, who deserved to win, and to the rest of us, who have put up with too much for too long.
We have all of us experienced injustice and outrage on many fronts, starting with sending young soldiers to die in an unnecessary war we’re funding ourselves. But this is never to forget those in this country to whom injustice had been, and for many still is, a fact of daily life. Consider the remarkable fact that an African-American – more importantly, the most qualified candidate, the man who deserved the Presidency, and got it – is now our President. The best man won, on the biggest stage of all.