Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Canadian's view of the Inauguration Speech

As I stood in a co-worker’s office yesterday morning and watched the newly sworn in President making his speech, I was truly impressed. This is one presidency that I hope does not lose the sheen of promise that it started off with.

There are several points that I really was impressed with, and would share with you here.

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.
What good does it do when you rely on sources half a world away to provide your needed energy? What good is the energy if your people are too sick and too ill prepared to use it for the furtherance of themselves or their nation?

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
I see this as the start of the criticism of Bush’s government. Instead of brandishing the sticks of terrorism and security, it appears that his focus will be more measured and reasonable instead of trying to frighten the populace on a regular interval.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
Speaking truth to the populace. It’s like the veil is being lifted, the fog is being burned away to reveal what was hidden.

...but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
Time to ‘man-up’ and deal with things. Again, this sounds like an indictment of the former administration for the less than stellar policies.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
This has me thinking one thing - the bootstrapping of America.

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.
Instead of shoving intellectuals to the fringes and relying on a dumbed-down approach to governing, it appears that this administration is going to rely on hard fact, new technology, and the help that scientific research can provide.

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
Gee, green energy, who knew? Last year’s oil prices have perhaps led to the idea that we need to figure out another way to power our world. Solar, wind, geothermal, fuel-cells: sounds like the push is on.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
Again, the climate of intolerance for education and smart government is expiring; graft will not be tolerated, with a hearkening of JFK’s spirit for good measure.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
It’s about time that the words of Benjamin Franklin were said and embraced by those people running the USA: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers.
As much as some Christians would want you to believe it otherwise, the nation is built up of more than followers of Christ. Being inclusive does more for unity than elitist exclusion.

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.
My first thought on hearing this is that Zimbabwe’s leadership won’t be happy with Obama’s speech. I sincerely doubt that President Mugabe will listen. Why should he start now?

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect.
Perhaps the US government will start pulling more weight in international humanitarian efforts? Of more pressing significance to me, it sounds like our oil sands will be hurting. However, this is good as maybe we’ll slow in the wholesale raping of the earth here in Alberta?

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
More JFK coming in loud and clear. Given that we as people define ourselves by the difficult things in life, not the easy, it’s a good point all the same.

Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
The election mantra was "Change We Need". I see the speech as one big announcement to the populace and the world: change, it is coming.


Ya Chun said...

seems like every sentence in the speech! I think they were all quotable. and nice commentary.

They only thing that irked me was that tacking on of the "- non-believers". It really sounded tacked on in the speech - and without the parallel construct (such as perhaps, followers of every other religion in the world-cause I am sure we've got em!) it really stood out. But it's good that it was there. And the world needs to hear that.

Like you said, it's the time for intolerance - in all things- to end. Hopefully this can happen the world over

excavator said...

I'm reminded of the Foundation Trilogy (Asimov, I think), where at various times the peoples of this civilization were tested. Times of crisis they emerged from successfully.

I think a good leader articulates his vision and uses symbolism well, to inspire people to do good. I like the tone he set in his speech, and think his remark to those in power by way of corruption and deceit applies to powerful interests in American government and business as well--wrong side of history.

Boy, he has set the stage so well. Hopefully he can keep his eyes on his own vision as he starts taking concrete action that's sure to piss people off. And there are those who are waiting for it to, to be able to say, "See, I told you he was all talk."

Kate C said...

Mr. Spit, that was a well-written and thoughtful analysis of an amazing speech. I live in DC, and I cannot even begin to describe how electrifying the past several days (or months, really) have been here.

My greatest hope is that America's mentality of ridiculous superiority and aggression will change and that, like you mentioned, we'll start contributing a little more in terms of international humanitarian aid. Our health care system could certainly do with a little change, too. I truly believe that we've chosen the right man for the job, and I for one am willing to do whatever it takes to carry out the proposed changes.

It's very interesting to hear about this from the perspectives of those who aren't Americans - I think it's important in helping us to remember that how we act affects the rest of the world as well.