Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Responsibility President

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those 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. - President Barack Obama's Inaugural Speech

This is the sort of message you can get people to rally behind only in the midst of an historic election - remember when Bill Cosby tried to make a case for better parenting and proper English? As the country revels in the remarkable achievement of our new President, yours truly is most excited about the onus this places on minority communities to embrace the political process and start feeling empowered to effect change. With "one of our own" in power, there's an even greater incentive for our nation's growing minority population to participate in the improvement of our schools, homes and families. It's everyone's responsibility to put America back on track and I appreciate our new President's reminding us of this fact.

I've written about my dismay with some members of the Black and Latino community who are complacent and settle for the trappings of comfort without wanting more from themselves or from life and I've asked how a Barack election would change that mindset. Here's hoping that the crowds gathered on the Mall and throughout America to watch the Inauguration went home with President Obama's exhortation reverberating in their imagination. I hope they walked away asking themselves, "how can I do that?"

While the powers-that-be sort out the mess that is the economy and Iraq, ordinary Americans can carry out the great work of restrengthening the foundation of our society. This call to civic responsibility and volunteerism is, at least for this twenty-something, unheard of but I like the sound of it and I'm inspired to do my part. We all have a stake in making the next four, eight years work - and there's something every one of us can do to better our communities, our schools, our families, and ourselves. I'm compiling my list now...