You can call me Pollyanna, naïve, fruitily optimistic, whatever you please, but I had an idealistic takeaway from the Inauguration this past weekend. I went not knowing what to expect. The lines were epic. It was cold. Transportation was a maze at best, impossible at worst. Aside from all these things, aside from being pushed, pulled, stepped on, searched, x-rayed and the whole nine yards, I’m so glad I went! The excitement in the air was palpable.
I went in with the feeling that I had contributed something personal and unique to this election. When I got there, I found that everyone surrounding me had that same feeling. The faces on The Mall on Monday morning were glowing and proud – proud because we all knew that our work had made this moment possible. This moment when the first woman (and Latina!) justice swore in our happy warrior Vice President, this moment on MLK Jr. Day when our first black President was sworn in using Dr. King’s bible, this moment where the highest number of women in history are serving publicly, this moment in a sea of faces that was a true representation of the diversity of this country, who all looked on with dignity. This moment where our President spoke of ideas that have rarely, if ever, been spoken at an Inauguration: GLQBT Rights (that was a first!), Climate Change, Compromise, Poverty, Marriage Equality, Immigrant Rights, Gun Control, the end of war, women’s rights… He even alluded to Romney’s 47% paradigm when he referred to the fallacy of a “nation of takers”.
“Our journey is not complete,” Obama said five times. Five times: “We the people.” Seven times: “Together.” He was asking us to continue to participate. To continue to hold progress in our hands by being active.
Obama called for unity, or what he called “collective action.” And while this call to action may at times sound formulaic, it dawned on me that our voice – now, more than ever – has made an impact. We all had a part in all of these firsts. We spoke out against the war on women, we rallied for gun control, we agitated for GLQBT rights and marriage equality, for immigration reform, for the acknowledgment of climate change, record numbers of Latinos and women came out to vote this election. Do you hear what I’m saying? We are making a difference!
My take away from the Inauguration was that our work must continue. Beyond the voting booths, beyond online petitions, because when we speak from our hearts and yell from the rooftops, real change occurs. Change is incremental, change can feel slow and we can grow impatient, but look around – we are in the current of a sea change. When we speak personally about what effects us politically, we can only win. With his speech, Obama reminds us that from “Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall”, we are inexorably tied to one another. He reminds us that no one is free until we all are. We are all part of the American story in our shared quest for equality under the law. We are getting closer. Can you feel it? The burden is now transferred into our hands for the next four years. The onus is on us as much as it is on our elected representatives. We, now more than ever, hold progress in our hands. We fought for this re-election, but that was just the beginning. The beat goes on… we cannot walk alone!
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths, that all of us are created equal, is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.” – Barack Obama
Shine On, You Powerful People!
PS: I want to thank HelloGiggles and especially the great Julia Gazdag for inviting to me to this historic event!