I think every blogger needs to write this post or one like it today: compelled by the magnitude of the moment to reflect on what has happened and what, in a few short hours, will happen. Some things are monumental in retrospect but this, this we know. We have some vague notion of what this means, and it’s hard to overstate it.
A few hours ago, I started writing a post, reflecting on the year that was (for the last year was not measured Jan 1st- December 31st, but January 4th 2007 to January 21st, 2008). It proved to be little more than a recounting of my own year, and the time before, framed by mentions of Obama, the campaign and what has surrounded it. Really, it was just boasting that I knew his name earlier than most of my compatriots, and I really believed his election possible quite early.
But, on thinking about it, I seem to have missed the point entirely.
For there is nothing less significant at the moment than my story. No person less important. My story is just another tale of middle class anxiety.
What is remarkable is what has happened. It is remarkable that this man was elected president. Not because he is anything less than immensely worthy, but because it didn’t seem possible in the America that seemed to evolve after September 11th. Honestly, it didn’t seem possible in the America I knew when I lived there in the late 90s.
But then, I look at my peers, and I wonder at my own wonder. We are often disparaged as a generation, but there are so many kind, compassionate, concerned individuals. Yes, a lot of us are selfish, and yes, we have a lot of growing up to do, but the foundation seems to be strong. When inspired by someone who doesn’t just think we’re out to serve our own interests, who asks us to offer service and believes that we will respond as we ought, we are more than willing to shed our childish tropes and take on the problems we face.
It’s awe-inspiring, really, to see how people have been moved by this. How calls for concrete changes, like education reform, better and more affordable health care, and new energy technologies, and calls for the abstract, for justice, for grace and for humility, have together rallied a nation. Really, they’ve rallied many around the world.
It’s something to wonder at.
Let us not become complacent, though, and lapse into old habits. Lets all- ALL- heed Obama’s call to serve. It is not something that is restricted to Americans- there is so much need in the world, let us do something about it.
If the last year has demonstrated anything, it’s that our generation is capable of participating in the world, of helping shape it to be a place we want to live out our days, and of making a contribution that is genuinely significant. Let us not forget that lesson.
As Obama takes office, we should remember what the year has taught us, and continue further on the path we’ve only now begun to tread.