Barack Obama has been President for 78 hours now, and I am neither as rich nor as good-looking as I should be. What gives?
It seems to me that, as a person with a blog, I have some sort of responsibility to write something about the inauguration. I have put it off for a few days partly because I was busy, but also because I had little to say about it that has not already been said by faster if not more eloquent parties. Did I watch it? I did. Did I feel pride? Yes. Hope? Check. Relief? A little. And I must say that the headlines – from closing Guantanamo to loosening restrictions on stem cell research – make me feel better day by day. But again, you can read this stuff anywhere.
There was that one moment during the President’s speech where he made reference to “non-believers.” That gave me a bit of a thrill, I must confess. It seemed like a huge step. And it ruffled a few feathers, too. Joy Behar of the horrid “The View” made a weird joke about “you pathetic atheists out there.” The Friendly Atheist has been trying to give her the benefit of the doubt – that she was in fact trying to be funny – but I frankly don’t see the humor. As Friendly Atheist points out, the line would have caused a riot if she’d said “pathetic Christians” or “pathetic Jews” instead. The President’s line even, according to some reports, drew boos from some parts of the multitude witnessing the event. Now that is impressive, to be the one thing that gets booed during Barack Obama’s inauguration speech.
Of course, those few voices of dissent really had very little to complain about. As Greta Christina pointed out, the inauguration was saturated with god-talk. It required no less than two ministers to see the thing through, plus two Bibles (one each for the President and Vice President), and more references to the Christian God than you can wave a cross at. Granted, Rev. Joseph Lowery’s closing benediction was a hoot, but it was still full of Lord this and Almighty that.
But what did I expect? This country is full of Christians. Our new President is a Christian. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting somebody who believes in the Abrahamic god. Our brief, token shout-out was more than any of us could reasonably expect.
Now before you go thinking this is another whine-athon, please know that that one phrase was not the only thing I took away from the President’s speech. What has stuck with me the most, what has been rolling around in my brain for the last few days, is this idea of responsibility. I will confess, responsibility is a thing I have striven to avoid. It always sounded like way too much work. There’s something different about it now, though, and I can’t put my finger on it. “Responsibility” has always, in my mind, seemed like an anchor preventing me from doing what I really want to do. There seems to be more to it now, though. Maybe it’s just that I’m not used to hearing this stuff from a truly gifted orator, but there is suddenly this sense of nobility surrounding the idea of responsibility. There is a sense of community about it. You want to go out and make it your own. It’s a good feeling, really.
I don’t know. The truth is, I’ve been busy. I started a new job, I’m working on a new play. I haven’t truly processed everything that has been going on. To use a cliche, it has been a blur. All I can say is that things feel different, and I am really very curious to see what happens next.