Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Thoughts

Yesterday brought us our 44th President, and I have some thoughts about that. Please remember that these are only my thoughts and opinions. You don't have to agree with them or like them, but you do have to respect them and my blog, since I consider my blog to be an extension of my home and my heart.

First up, the issue of race. I am glad that the issues Martin Luther King Jr. fought so hard for were finally seen through to such an extent, and what a tribute to him for this to culminate the day after we observed his birth. For a group of people who had to fight for their freedom, their right to own property, their right to vote, etc, it is truly a marvelous day when one of their own is sworn in to lead our nation. I will feel the same way when we elect a woman to the White House.

Perhaps now we, as a nation, can finally move past the race issue. I cannot begin to tell you how it frustrates me when race is brought into an otherwise neutral context. This happens in both positive and negative connotations, when really race should serve no other purpose than to be a physical identifier. Skin color should be treated with the same regard as hair color or eye color. We are all HUMANS, each with varied pasts and histories, but PEOPLE first and foremost. I hope that since we have seen an African American elected to the highest position in the land, we can move beyond this and get down to the business of seeing one another as a PERSON, and not a RACE.

Second, and really I think my bigger problem with yesterday's activities - the hype. The hoopla. And yes, I realize that my posting on this subject is just further feeding into it. I can accept that. No need to call me a hypocrite. Let's begin by clearing the air on a few things, just so you can see where I am coming from.
  • I agree that this country is in awful shape right now.
  • I agree that something needs to be done to fix it.
  • I agree that sometimes that repair work can only come from a wholesale, broad and sweeping change in the way that the government carries out its duties. This can, and usually does, include changes in which political party controls the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • I do have faith and hope in things getting better in this country. There are a very few ways in which it could get worse, and yet each of those ways is very serious and quite upsetting.
However. Yeah, you knew that was coming - there's always a "but".

I think it is ... unrealistic ... unfair ... and yes, even wrong ... to place all of our nation's hope on one single man.

Unrealistic: He cannot make these changes by himself. Our government was designed with checks and balances to prevent this. Even with the Democrats having the majority control in the rest of Washington, Barack Obama cannot single-handedly fix everything that is wrong with our country.

Unfair: All of these hopes, dreams, and expectations are A LOT of weight to place on one man's shoulders. I think it's a bit unfair to him, as a simple human being, to suggest that he can right all the wrongs we are facing.

Wrong, version 1: In order for this country to come back and turn around from the place where it is at right now, we need every man, woman and child to STEP UP. Do not expect one man, or even all of the politicians in Washington, to fix this. Each of us needs to step up and lend a hand. To expect that the new leadership we have in this country can make everything all better is to do a severe injustice to both the people who founded our nation, as well as the threads of patriotism and the American spirit that linger in the hearts of our citizens.

Wrong, version 2: (This one is probably a point that will get me "in trouble" with some of you out there. So be it. Again, these are only my thoughts and opinions. Take them, or leave them - just be sure you respect them.) I think that the hype and sensationalism I witnessed yesterday via various media outlets borders on idolatry. As in, "Thou shalt not have any other gods before me." You may think I'm off my rocker, but think about it. The media attention and the reactions of the individuals interviewed left a sour taste in my mouth because it resembled some bizarre celebrity adoration or cult following. I found myself wondering if this is how some of the world's most notorious dictators and general all-around bad guys got their followers. It comes back to the thoughts I expressed above regarding having hope in one single man.

Personally, I have hope and faith in the American spirit and the American people, but my greatest faith lies with the Lord because I know that He has a plan for me and for each of his sons and daughters. I have faith that He (uppercase "H", the Lord) will get me through this rough patch, and I choose not to place that faith with him (lowercase "h", Obama).

Wrong, version 3: (Yep, again, I know that you won't / don't all agree with me.) I think it's a bit premature to be doing all of this celebrating. Let's see what Obama can get accomplished. Let's see where we are in 6 months, 12 months, 4 years. If our nation is in a better place at that point than it currently is, that is a time for celebrating. If anything, I feel like we should be cautious and guarded... have a bit of a nervous apprehension. For instance, the healthy and normal apprehension that comes when you are a new parent letting someone babysit your child for the first time, or when you let someone borrow your brand new dream car for a spin around the block. If we can honestly say that our country is in a better place 4 years from now, throw him one doozie whizz-bang of an inauguration celebration for his second term. But for now, cautious optimism is about all that I think he deserves.

One last time, these are only my opinions, and I ask that you respect them and me. I encourage comments, and am curious to know what other people are thinking. I actually kind of wish I had a bigger readership so that there could be more of a dialogue about what I've said here. I realize my views are different from many of my friends and readers, but that's what makes our country so wonderful. I can have my thoughts, and so can you.

One last thing: I'll be away from tomorrow morning until late Saturday. Do not be alarmed by my lack of response to any comments left behind - I'll respond when I get back.


Melb. said...

Calm down! You know I agree with some of what you said but let's keep it in perspective. It's history. That's what makes it so exciting. Who would have thought a black man would be president. It will all die down.

Things are not going to change overnight and then watch, some of the same people who are cheering him will turn on him. He wasn't my choice but now that he is in I will support him within my morals and standards.

My hope and trust is only in the Lord. That's why we have to keep praying. There will be no satisfaction down here so we do the best we can. Maranatha!

BTW: Stop apologizing on your blog. It's your blog. Remind your readers that it's about your opinions, etc but stop apologizing. That's what a blog is...

Your friend who knows this is only a "temporary residence". :Þ

Melb. said...

One more thing: Get rid of the red on your blog or I can't it anymore..

...signed your bossy friend!!!

Melb. said...

I meant, I can't "read it anymore"

Laurel said...

--> Mel <--

Not apologizing, just encouraging peeps to PLAY NICELY.


Rollie said...

Hey Laurel,

I see no surprises in your post, as I already know how you feel about yesterday. Still think you are missing one important thing. In all your versions, that Obama talked about in his speech. I am not sure if you listened to his speech, but he feels the same about so many things as you do. He said we ALL have to step up, he in no way has ever said he would be doing this by himself. He has said all along he needs everyone.
Also, I think that yesterday was more of a celebration of what is to come, not a boastful way of saying WE WON AND WE ARE THE BEST! I don't see this in this man at all. I believe he is very thoughtful and calculated in his approaches to all issues. I think we will see more and more of this. But as in any administration there will be supporters, and there will be nay sayers. It will always come down to the "Sky is blue" and one side saying it is a green/blue and the other saying it is a red/blue...we will never all agree. But that is not what makes us friends, it is paper and glue, and that will always be good! Love ya! Hope when things get better for you, you can be happy and celebrate.
oh and I agree with Mel...Get rid of the red!! LOL

Laurel said...

--> Rollie, <--

My problem is not so much with Obama himself.

It is much, much more with the media and the American people.

Marlene said...

I totally respect your opinion, and agree with most (not all) of your points. I further want to add that I fully respect that you have left the comment section "open" here, so there can be an intelligent exchange of dialogue. This shows tolerance AND respect for others' beliefs, and I applaud you for this.

My first big beef with the "hoopla" - and it WAS "hoopla", any way you want to cut that this country is in an UNPRECEDENTED position of being trillions of dollars in the hole, with no easy or short term fix visible anywhere on the horizon. That being the case, WHY, instead of acknowledging this as fact, was there a disgusting amount of money poured into this inauguration? We're talking money that could have been better spent elsewhere. There could have still been a respectful, beautiful inauguration honoring the new President without all this hoopla! If he really wants to change things, then why continue to perpetuate the disgusting "orgy of wealth" as others have so eloquently put it...typically associated with these inauguration events (especially at a time like THIS)...and I am NOT singling Obama out for this one, as it happens time and time again with EVERY newly elected President.

Please, not call this a "green" event. The so-called "carbon footprint" left by the MILLIONS who attended this party can be called anything BUT green.

I totally understand that "history" was made, in that we elected our first African-American President. That is a fact. What puzzles me, however, is that if we are to eliminate the race card, why are we putting so much emphasis on his race?!!! He is a PERSON, first and foremost. The fact that he is African-American (and if we're going to pull the race card here, let's be clear in making sure we all know that he is HALF WHITE AS WELL) should not matter one iota to any of us! Wouldn't it have been a bigger deal for our first "black" President to have been elected without ANY mention of his race at all? That, to me, would show that we finally ARE truly color-blind, as we should be! Almost every headline in every newspaper had the word "BLACK" in it. What is with that? Have we not just taken a huge step backwards when it comes to melding the races?

So there you have it. My beef is with the way this inauguration was handled at what we are HISTORICALLY seeing as some of the WORST ECONOMIC TIMES in the history of the United States of America. Is the POMP and it's resulting symbolism really what matters in the end? Or is it how our elected President serves this country and it's citizens what should really matter?

On that note, all I've seen so far is that President Obama is one heckuva GREAT MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER. There is no denying that this man can speak well...and certainly knows how to deliver the "hope" message.

While he was not my choice (honestly because I do not subscribe to Liberal policies), I'll reserve my judgment on his leadership skills based on what he actually DOES for this country and it's citizens while he's in office, not on how he's campaigned.

rosie said...

I will offer the opinion that much of the "hoopla" was created by the media who capitalized on Obama's popularity and ability to energize people. This election proved that he got people (both for and against) out to vote and be involved for the first time in a long time. He is fascinating because he is the first African-American president and the media just wants us watching. He is an advertiser's dream-people just want to watch him.

As for the cost-this was by far not the most extravagant inauguration. This was actually toned down by inauguration standards and even the balls were toned down compared to years past-yes, still extravagant, but to me, a new administration is cause for celebration.

I am waiting to see what the Obamas do with decorating the White House-that will tell me more about whether or not they are going to be personally sensitive to the economic situation. Most first ladies have spent a ton redecorating the place! I would love it if Michelle Obama would go to Ikea for the girls' rooms!

Plus, much of yesterday's "excess" was privately funded as the inauguration balls are all given for the president, not by the president.

rosie said...

oh, and I am with mel, the color hurts my eyes.

I think I am getting old :(

Marlene said...

Well, Blogger ate my first post, so here we go again.

Rosie, while the bulk of the $$$ spent on the inauguration did, indeed come from the private sector, one cannot deny that MILLIONS also came from public monies.


"The federal government estimates that it will spend roughly $49 million on the inaugural weekend. Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland have requested another $75 million from the federal government to help pay for their share of police, fire and medical services."


"In a letter to members of Congress, the governors of Maryland and Virginia, and the mayor of Washington said that their combined costs could exceed $75 million. That's on top of the $49 million the federal government is spending, again mostly for security."

It's also interesting to note that:
"The biggest group of donors were none other than the recently bailed-out Wall Street executives and employees. The finance sector is well represented, despite its recent troubles," Ritsch said. "Those who worked in finance still managed to pull together nearly $7 million for the inauguration."

Anyone wondering where that bailout money went yet? I am.

Many of us may feel that a new administration is worthy of a celebration, but at what cost? Can we AFFORD this? Is it even ethical to be this wasteful in the face of an economy which is crashing head-first, where people are losing jobs left, right and center...not to mention their homes?

The problem is that for too long, Americans have lived beyond their means....and now we're all paying for it.

Yes, I totally agree with you that the media has caused much of this hoopla.

Thank you for presenting your opinion in an intelligent way. I've enjoyed reading it.

rosie said...

marlene-thanks :)

I was thinking mostly of the balls with the extravagance as far as the private money, but you do raise a good point as well.

It will be interesting to see how much money all the hotels, restaurants, caterers, digital camera stores, photo processors, coffee shops, taxi drivers, metro system, and on and on made over this inauguration weekend. I was there for Bill Clinton's in 92 and I will tell you-DC and the surrounding suburbs are rolling in money right now-definitely a boost to their local economy.

And, as for the Wall Street people-ugh-I can't go there and be civil, so I will refrain. But, as someone who has lived within my means (even when it hurt) they disgust me :)

Marlene said...

Rosie, you wrote:

I"t will be interesting to see how much money all the hotels, restaurants, caterers, digital camera stores, photo processors, coffee shops, taxi drivers, metro system, and on and on made over this inauguration weekend. I was there for Bill Clinton's in 92 and I will tell you-DC and the surrounding suburbs are rolling in money right now-definitely a boost to their local economy."

And I agree....this will (hopefully) be the silver lining (for the DC area, anyway) in the cloud.

And while we can agree to disagree on who we think might make a better President, I think most of us agree that Wall Street needs a good kick in the pants. ;)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Okay, so here's my $0.02: So what...we've been beseiged by all sorts of cruddy news for how long? Can't we have ONE DAY to celebrate ANYTHING?

For all the money that was spent, there was a stimulating factor. The whole hospitality industry is suffering. All those people who visited DC had to eat, had to sleep somewhere, had to GET THERE. Had to use the facilities provided. The police got overtime... they have all families to feed too. (Were there any real problems? Any arrests or fights or muggings? I guess somebody would've already brought that up by now if there were.)

As far as I'm concerned, it was money well-spent.

Whether or not you agree with our President's policies, whether you voted for him,or not, (I didn't.) You must admit that he looks as if he's trying to surround himself with top-drawer advisors and people who have some idea how things are run. Because he is untried, and he really has no idea what he can achieve. Which to me is the most exciting. Because show me with whom YOU surround YOURSELF, and I'll tell you who you are.

Jen A. said...

I have to say I liked watching the inauguration and was quite happy I was home that day to enjoy it. I know at the school I work in (public school) we were encouraged to have students take class time to watch. When was the last time Americans were all involved in the same news event on TV?? - probably Sept 11, 2001. If Americans can look at this event as somewhat motivating and feel a sense of comfort in that someone, single man or an entire army, is willing to analyze our country and make the initiative to change, then I'll buy the ticket for the show. I just hope when the credits roll in 4 years it will have been a great Show!

Also, not only Americans were excited about our presidential change, many countries around the world tuned in for the event as well. That should say something as well.

As far as wasted expenses, I agree that security was a necessity and I am in favor of that money being spent. In fact, the need for that comes just as much from the mass of spectators who traveled to D.C. as the government. Money to DIRECTLY keep Americans safe - I like that.
It will be interesting to see how furnishing the White House goes. However, it can't be any worse than Laura Bush purchasing brand new china for the Bush Administration for 250 million in the last month. Now, it did come from private funding, but I'll bet a lot more good could have come from that other than self-indulgence for 1 family. At least the inauguration proved inspiring for most of the country.

As far as God is concerned, I think President Obama will be looking to Him for much guidance. That was evident in his speech as well as his choice to take his oath on the Bible. We can all join him in Prayer that God will help our country and the many suffering in it. However, prayers and actions need to combine. Maybe we need to pray to help us find our strength and ideas to make our difference in the country/world. Long posting short...I'm a firm believer that God has a reason for everything and I think we have President Obama for a reason as well.
Thanks for making me think about this Laurel! :-)