President Barack Hussein Obama II was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America today. Expecting and needing great counsel from a new leader, America gathered around the White House, TVs, radios, and live webfeeds to hear Obama's first speech as our official leader. And he didn't dissapoint.
He started by briefly outlining the current state of the union:
“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. 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.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”
With such difficult times, he also has great ambitions. Among the nation's wish list, Obama highlighted the tasks to:
Create new jobs
Build roads and bridges, electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together
Restore science to its rightful place
Raise health care's quality and lower its cost
Harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories
Transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age
He also included in his message a word to the watching world (this section gives me chills).
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 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.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. 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. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.”
Though his goals may seem lofty, and it may appear he has a country divided to overcome, he spoke with authority and grace when he asked America to step up, dust ourselves off, and take responsibility for our children's children's future.
“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”
“…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.”
“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.”
I left the BYU Tech Room with the projected screen of inaugurial activities, feeling somewhat like I had left a corporate strategy meeting. Our leader has a vision and a voice to pump the nation into action. I can only hope that he is as good as his word to innact change, with the assurance that I, in my circle of influence, will be doing my part.