So I was awakened this morning, just like every morning, by the smell of coffee wafting through the house. The coffee that we have been drinking for the past few years has been White House Coffee. For some reason, the coffee this morning tastes a little sweeter and smoother than two mornings ago. I then looked out the window to see the dark clouds moving inland with the ocean breeze and was greeted by the not so sweet smelling breath of my four year old who was hovering above me ready to pounce to rudely wake me up. I put on my pants one leg at a time, kissed my wife and daughter “good morning”, got my son ready for pre-school, fed my dog, picked up his poop and helped feed my 7 month old daughter by making funny noises and dancing around like wild man trying to distract her so that my wife can shovel homemade baby food into her mouth and finally used a Netti Pot to clear my allergy ridden sinuses. Just a normal morning for the Kim-Cho household all before 8:30am.
It’s the morning after. It’s the morning after taking the day off to witness an incredible event. It is the day after getting up so early to witness the historic inauguration with tears in my eyes. It’s the morning after standing up and clapping as loudly as I can as Barack Obama took his oath to become the 44th President of the United States. It’s the morning after connecting with and celebrating the day with friends and family by facebook, twitter, emails and phone calls. It’s the morning after shouting Amen, Amen, Amen after Joseph Lowery’s Benediction. It is the morning after.
My morning routine was the same. I was back at work planning out my week, making to do lists, checking my emails and my calendar. Already on the news, the pundits and some anchors are beginning criticize Obama. People are analyzing his inauguration speech for better or for worse. Those who are politically and religiously liberal are criticizing Rick Warren’s prayer (transcript here). Those who are considered conservative are ripping apart Joseph Lowery’s prayer-read the comments (transcript here). I heard on NPR today that religious extremists are now burning pictures of Obama as well as Bush along with the American flag. Many economists and leaders of the world don’t see much change in Obama’s speech yesterday. The republicans and democrats are at it again over Obama’s cabinet confirmations and there is no end in sight for the war in Iraq and who knows what will happen in the Gaza strip and in Afghanistan. So where’s the change?
Yet in these troubling and uncertain economic and political times, for me, something has changed. I was surprised to hear my wife say that “now I feel proud to hoist high the American flag”. It’s the same kind of statement that Michelle Obama was criticized for during the Democratic campaign, but today it seems appropriate, IMHO. The tears and my shouting during the inauguration wasn’t about the joy that a Black man became President, but that a person who embodies and talks about the hopes and dreams that I have for United States and the world will lead this country of ours. The tears were part of the release of my pent up anger and frustration over the past 8 years. And now like Moses, I can look down from the mountaintop and actually see the promised land. I can see God’s vision of all that we can be. It gives me hope and a goal to work towards.
Today I feel freedom from the past 8 years of decisions made in secrecy, the mentality of us against them, idea of our supremacy, not caring for each other, forgetting to create a just society, ignoring the less fortunate, abuse of power, not being able to take responsibility for all the actions or inactions, pillaging our environment, inability to say sorry and to tell the truth, forgetting that we are but one country in the world and that with our superpower status comes with it greater responsibility to the world. Obama has already begun to make his campaign promises come true today and will continue to fulfill them in the future. So when Aretha Franklin belted out the words “freedom” during her singing, I heard more than the plight and the cloud of witnesses in the civil rights movement for African Americans in this country, I heard freedom from all that has gone wrong with America from the past administration. And when I heard the clarinetist Anthony McGill begin to play “The Lord of the Dance” with Yoyo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriela Montero, I could imagine Jesus dancing in heaven and on earth.