Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And Now We Must

After an interminable wait, the inauguration has come and gone with the right balance of spectacle, ceremony, and solemnity. I never thought I'd see an African-American sworn in as President of the U.S. I thought Dr. King's dream would be realized in my children's lifetime, but I was happily proven wrong. Once again, the combined wisdom of the American people elected a leader we hope will bring positive change to life in the United States, an improved economy (although the stock market dropped 4% yesterday -- so much for the Obama bounce!), two wars must be brought to conclusion, and we need to work to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We can make the dream of change a reality if we all pitch in and work together. We can differ, but we must stop undermining each other. Doesn't work. Never has. Never will.

The Cheney-Bush regime is now history. I watched the smooth changing of power as Bush left office and Obama came in. I hope our enemies got the message: you don't need revolution, invasion, bloodshed, and wars to change power. The people will vote for what's important. If you trust in them, you can move any country forward. One of my friends, Glenn Cruickshank, was on the mall yesterday. He captured an image I had to share with you. No boos. No jeering. Just a wave off to life as a private citizen.

And the present is upon us and it's our turn to help out. I spent half a day on Monday in service to our community picking up trash along our highways. I filled no fewer than eight garbage bags in two miles, carefully separating recyclables from regular trash. Given the number of empty beer cans and fast food containers, I bet most of the trash blew out of the backs of pick up trucks. I wish people would secure their garbage, but I will never want for community service as long as I am the garbage lady.

What can we do to help turn things around? One is not to become part of the problem. Live within our means. Pay our bills on time. Don't buy more than you can afford. Live within the law. Don't speed, drink and drive, sell or use drugs, injure others. If we live like the good citizens we know we should be, we can do a lot to turn around the economy and our image in the world.

To our armed forces everywhere: I am so proud of you for serving our country. You are our eyeball to eyeball ambassadors. Please keep up the good work and come home safely.

We can do it. We must do it. Please join me in living within your means and helping out others who are less fortunate -- or who litter our streets and highways. There's plenty of work to do. Let's get started.