[Note to Readers: I am breaking from regular blog topics for just a day - one that only comes about every 4 years in this country. And, one that, I believe, should give all free agents like us some pause for thought.]
Inauguration Day. Again. An older, wiser, more somber politician took the presidential oath and made an impassioned speech under the 150-year-old Capitol Dome. Yet, his clarion call for collective action proved stronger than ever. And, his righteous resolve to address the urgent problems of our time is now more determined than ever.
There are some who say that this is the most Liberal speech a President has given:
- The powerful references to equalizing the civil rights of various groups
- The specific denial of the popular Republican “takers vs makers” dichotomy
- The firm reiteration of an alliances vs aggression stance
- The methodic enumeration of reformation needs within our economy, infrastructure, environment and, yes, government
There are others who say that:
- Despite the case for collectivism (the words “we”, “our”, “people” were used a record number of times), he did little to address the government gridlock that is delaying the required decisions / actions needed for the very issues he enumerated.
- Despite being effective in invoking the language of the US Constitution and referencing some of the most powerful events in this country’s history, he did not confront the challenges of partisanship that have turned our government into the theater of the absurd.
They are all correct in their assessments. It is not possible for a single speech, no matter how effective the speaker or how influential his bully pulpit, to meet the needs of every single listener.
At the end, when he returned to the podium entrance to gaze out on the crowds thronging National Mall one last time – a sight, he acknowledged quietly, that he would never see again – it was evident that, not only could he rise to the occasion, but he could also be moved deeply by it.
So, yes, there will be many contradicting opinions about today’s speech. That said, this President demonstrated today, as he always does during such defining moments, 2 attributes that every leader should possess – consistency and authenticity.
In turn, at the very least, free agents everywhere could pay heed to this one call as we go about our lives and vocations:
My parting questions today: If we take this to heart, how will it shape our individual decisions, actions, beliefs and principles? Can we aspire to become the citizens that “the realities of our times” require of us? Will we rise to the occasion as well?
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