It’s January 21, 2013 and a very big day. It is the beginning of a brand new year. And now just any year, a year that - according to the Mayan calendar – ushers in a new era. It is also the observance of the footprint of a true American iconoclast, Dr. Martin Luther King, whose work put America on the world stage as having legitimate moral authority. And on my television, the inauguration of Barack Obama for a second term, the fourteenth president to serve a second elected term out of forty-three presidents and the first black man to hold the office. As I watch the proceedings – a first for me I have never watched a presidential inauguration - I become emotional. I want to cry. I do and when I finish I have to ask myself why. This president and this presidency have changed me. Unexpectedly but undeniably and for deep and personal gain. And here is how.
I want to participate now. This president has made me believe that I am an important part of the American political system and America. And when I choose to participate – by reading more about issues, by listening to debates and by thinking about the long term implications of political actions on the part of elected officials – I not only understand more about politics and how politics work, I believe I am a part of it all. I now feel I belong here.
I realize that I love this country. I love how game we are to struggle with our faults and our weaknesses. I love how we hide nothing and try everything. I love the possibility and the surprise of America. I love that in others and – in business and in my personal life - I want to be that way too.
I’m braver. To watch this president – a president marked and somewhat maligned for being obviously human and so mortal – struggle for the good, struggle for ethics in American politics, struggle for the long term, watching this man has made me braver. I live by ethics and I sometimes feel alone. And foolish. His stage is so big it makes my goals feasible and attainable. See? His actions seem to say, see what can be done if you don’t give up.
He walks down Pennsylvania Avenue now on my television screen, unarmed and vulnerable. He waves and smiles into the hardest job anybody could have – taking care of this big, powerful, unruly country. Again.
I am grateful.
Thank you, President Obama.