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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 20, 2009

Obama dawning: sober words of hope and duty

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 7:27 pm


Inauguration Day dawned with high expectations.   The weather forecast for Schenectady called for partly cloudy skies this morning — the perfect setting for a glorious sunrise (pink-painted clouds in a crisp winter-blue sky) to celebrate the opening of the Obama Presidential Era (in contrast to yesterday’s Bush sunset). Therefore, the f/k/a Gang was up and about much earlier than usual, in order to be caffeinated, bundled up, and out in Riverside Park for the 7:15 sunrise, Canon PowerShot in hand.  Outside my front door, however, it became clear that a thick blanket of gray clouds covered our Eastern sky.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

.. Inauguration Day 2009, at sunrise, Riverside Park, Schenectady NY; photos by D. Giacalone ..

After a quick moment of disappointment, I thought: A stately, subdued sunrise is just fine.  We don’t need a flashy show, nor rockstar fireworks today.  No drama, just the real Obama.

And, Barack Obama did not let us down, after being sworn in as our 44th President.  He gave a speech that was sober, not splashy — the goals soared more than the rhetoric.  In his Inaugural Speech (text, video), President Obama chose to focus on responsibilities over rights, community over clannishness, public spirit over party spite.  He chose to be himself and ask us to be our best selves.

For too many decades, politicians have told Americans that we can demonstrate our freedom with selfishness and our liberty with callousness.  So, I want to thank President Barack Hussein Obama for asking us to join him in a “new era of responsibility.”  This line is surely being quoted around the world and the web:

“There is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

Imagine if “only” a few million of us discovered the truth in that sentence?  Then, imagine if the majority of us did?

Frankly, as one of the “nonbelievers” in the “patchwork heritage” of America, I thought there was a little bit too much of the obligatory “God talk” in the inaugural ceremonies.  That’s not because I begrudge others their beliefs (although, I do wish they had a bit more respect for my choice to base my moral code on the dignity of man, not the commands of a deity).  It’s because I know — as does Barack Obama — that it won’t be God doing “the work of remaking America.”  It will be each of us, alongside our leaders.  As Pres. Obama correctly noted:

“God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.”

Barack Obama impressed and inspired me in his first national appearance, on July 27, 2004 (see our prior post, “Obama, O mama“).  He no longer needs to impress me to have my support and best wishes.  But, I hope he will continue to inspire all of us — to “put away childish things” and grow into a mature citizenship, within a national community ready to work, learn, and face our joint future together.



a pretty kite soars
a beggar’s shack

the war lord
forced off his horse…
cherry blossoms

a mountain cuckoo sings
“Don’t fall off
that horse!”

a war lord too
draws near our fire…
Oi River

… by Kobayashi Issa (19th Century, Japan), translated by David G. Lanoue

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