Thank you, Barack Obama!
"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers." - Barack Obama, inaugural speech, January 20, 2009
The inclusion of "nonbelievers" in Obama's inaugural speech this morning truly is a momentous occasion. I don't believe the tens of millions of us here in the U.S. have ever been acknowledged by a president in such a high profile manner. I'm grateful for this; it's a step in the right direction and exactly what I've come to expect from Obama. I'm optimistic about this administration.
I did cringe several times while watching the live broadcast of gay-basher Pastor Rick Warren's narrowly focused invocation, but then Rev. Joseph Lowery gave a benediction that was more inclusive, with more peace and love and less Jesus.
I watched the inauguration in an auditorium full of students and faculty at my university, and the crowd stood up whenever the crowd in D.C. was asked to stand. There weren't even any 9/11 Truthers yelling nonsense at the screen or harassing people outside the building. It was like the Libertarians hadn't rolled out of bed yet.
I was moved by Obama's speech in that he addressed the nation's weaknesses and didn't candy-coat anything:
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet."
Here's another highlight (reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"):
"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."
And some more highlights:
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint." (some not so veiled jabs at Bush?)
You can find a full transcript of the speech here.