Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yes, we did.

I am grateful for today. I am grateful for the American spirit, and more inclusively, the human spirit performing at it's very best. I am grateful to witness fear losing the battle, and grateful to be led by integrity, intelligence and inspiration.

A few of the inspired highlights from President Obama's Inaugural Speech:

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

And finally, a mantra that I think everyone should use as a measure for their lives:

"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy."

It makes me question what, in my daily life, I am destroying as opposed to building. I prefer to be in the construction business, without a doubt, but even the slightest drop of fear has an immense destructive power.

I'm grateful to witness such an immensely historic, important and ultimately simple moment - but one that was a long time in coming. Not only 8 years long, but centuries long. Words fail me, but the word gratitude keeps coming to mind.

But as he soberly reminds us over and over: now the work begins.

Was it me, or was this shift felt around the world? Yeah. That's what I thought!



Operafan said...

The shift was definitely felt in France...what a day!!... Toï, Toï, Toï for your hometown Furore concert tonight! Cheers :-)

marcillac said...

Hi Joyce.

It is really quite superflous for me to comment on reaction abroad since you obviously have access to all media and many friends and collegues around the world who can give their own impressions and those of the people around them. Still, I've been in Vienna for the past couple of weeks and have been so stuck 2 things I have encountered that I thought I might convery it.

First, I've frankly been schocked by how much this has been the subject on everyone's lips for the entire period I have been here. Not only people I've interacted with socially and professionally but just about everyone, in the street, at the Opera, at restaurants, at the Musikverein seems to be talking about nothing else. While I did expect quite a bit of buzz in the days around the inaguration, I did not anticipate that it would be to this extent and for this length of time. At first I didn't consciously listen for this but after a time it became hard to ignore and the more I paid attention the more prevelant it seemed.

The second thing that has struck me has been the somewhat equivical nature of the reaction. From personal contacts, the media, various polls, one could easily get the impression that the world might indeed shift. While anti-Americanism has been a phenomenon for centuries and I did not think that the current political developments would alter that, there can be no doubt that the U.S. has been less favorably viewed in recent years and one would have thought this might change meaningfully, if perhaps not dramatically, with the advent of President Obama. While one can certainly identify a very positive reaction, its pervasivness and force has been of lesser magnitutde than one might have hoped. At least in so far as one can judge from the "ether" in Vienna.

Having discussed the matter with some European and American friends (living in Europe) it seems that this might not be limited entirely to Vienna. We shall see.

What cannot be disputed is the momentous nature of the moment in American history nor the reality that it is only in America that a black man could have risen so far, so fast to assume the mantle of the most powerful leader in the world.

helenbop said...

A fantastic reflection on yesterday from both you, Joyce, and from Marcillac.
As a Brit, I've certainly had mixed feelings about America in these past few years; a country which influnces our way of life so heavily yet in recent years not in such a positive light.
What will always be inspirational to me about the United States is the courage of so many got up and left for a better life and new hope of their future generations.
Even as a foreigner, I felt this same hope as I saw Barack Obama become the 44th President.
It was an incredibly moving moment and a great message for us for 2009.

Sarah said...

Yeah! It was felt!! Yesterday was so awesome that I am still spinning. Oh the joy of having the best of all of us out there for the world to see. We're reality-based again! Now if we only had as many tax dollars going to cultural centers as go to sports stadiums I could die happy.

Papagena said...

I had to ran home from work to see the speech live, but it was worth it! And of course we felt the same all over the world!

I'm so happy for you americans but I'm also happy for myself and for the whole world. This wonderful man has filled us all with hope. And in his first day of work he hasn't disappointed me!!!

Lots of love :-)

Ygor C.S. said...

Oh, you may be sure the shift was felt all around the world! I'm from Brazil and I know no person who isn't expecting the best from Obama. Millions of people here watched to Obama's speech on January 20th. We know he (and the rest of the world) will have to face great challenges in the next years, but it's such a great surprise that we finally have someone who acts like a true chief of State and not like someone who wants victory at any cost. I always thought: what a great contradiction for America that they fight against terror but are more and more "flexible" with their own values, which they should preserve against the terror and the fear! Now it seems the Americans are again feeling that the best way to build a better world is for them to feel their own country is a part of the world and they have great responsibilities with it. I hope United States and Brazil keep their good relations and deepen them as well. The 21th century will be, hopefully, a time of cooperation between the nations, and not a time of competition or wars. We're starting this amazing possibility right now!

Oh, btw, I think you, Joyce, is one of the most amazing things the world has now. At least we can enjoy your perfect artistry while the world doesn't get rid of all its problems and conflicts. :-)

Sarah said...

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Sarah said...

OK, totally shallow post here - I adore Michelle and am now committed to losing weight so that I can shop at JCrew too. Take a look here: