Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finding the right words

This is one of those special days. You know those days - when something so momentous happens, you always remember exactly where you were. I will remember sitting here with my laptop, struggling to come up with the right words to describe it.

I will remember feeling hopeful.
I will remember feeling amazed.

Barack Obama. Who would have thought?

Not that long ago, he was called a friend of terrorists. He was called a black radical, a secret Muslim, a non-citizen, an ultra-liberal, a hater of America.

These words didn't phase him. Why? Because this is a man who defines his life by words of his own.

When people questioned his friendships, his character, his experience and his beliefs, he didn't retaliate. He talked. He used words like "hope" ... "unity" ... "service" ... "ideals." He urged us all to examine what we were really saying, and to be careful with the words we choose, knowing that our words shape our actions and define our character.

It would be easy for a man like this to maintain a limited viewpoint, based on his eloquent ideas and nothing else. But Obama is not only a man who talks. He is a man who listens.

He has already started to assemble his team, representing a variety of viewpoints, backgrounds and political affiliations. He invites input from people who disagree with him. He asks for ideas from ordinary Americans.

I know he is not the Messiah. Come on, we all know that.
I know he is not perfect.
But I know that he values the power of words, and I believe that his words will shape this country in positive ways for at least four years to come.

Some of my friends and family members are feeling anxious and resentful and skeptical right now. If those are the words you are using to define this day, I would challenge you to look for other words.

There are lots of good words to choose from.

Need some ideas? Talk to children who have new ways of imagining their future. Look at the faces of your fellow Americans who are seeing new possibilities. Hear the heart of a President who has a new vision for this rowdy, divided, fiercely independent country of ours.

Listen closely. The right words will come.


gaf85 said...

Lesley, A hopeful day for all of us and exciting to see history being made!It is humbling to realize that each one of us can contribute to changing the "world", (or country).
Part of me is very fearful that some prejudiced imbalanced people might try to do something bad.

Lesley said...

Yes, hopeful and scary at the same time.

My husband had a conversation with someone today who said "We now have a n***** in the White House. My grandfather would be rolling over in his grave."

I think that's kind of the point.


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