Yesterday's frivolous blog post notwithstanding, I was deeply moved by the inauguration and all that it portends. I found myself in tears throughout the day, and I welled up again this morning when I read this New York Times article about Barack Obama's amazing extended family.
A few reflections, and then I must turn to a small mountain of work and turn the comments over to you.
As you probably know, I'm a big fan of San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll. He followed the inauguration and devoted today's column to it. Among the passages that jumped out at me:
It is one of Obama's great strengths, I think, that he is also aware of the savagery that this country has produced, and he chooses not to dwell on it. What he is dealing with is too vast for malicious dealing. This is likely to irritate a lot of people, because politics is a blood sport, and we like to see our enemies confounded and shamed.
When I heard Elizabeth Alexander read her inaugural poem, I admired her delivery but was disappointed by what struck me as its flat prosiness. (I wasn't alone.) But I find I'm enjoying reading it on the page.
ReadWriteWeb has created word clouds of Obama's Inaugural speech and of those of several of his predecessors, including Abraham Lincoln.
Here's what I heard in the speech, with its call for responsibility, individual and shared: echoes of a first-century Babylonian Jewish teacher, Rabbi Hillel. Now, I am not a religious person—in fact, I was thrilled that Obama acknowledged us nonbelievers in his address, a first for presidential speeches, I think. But you don't have to believe in a deity to live by Hillel's credo, which, like much Jewish dialogue, consists of a series of questions:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?