Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our American Challenge

Today we witnessed the inauguration of our nation's 44th president and yesterday we honored someone who helped make that possible.  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a citizen who worked against powerful forces to expand liberty, justice and equality.  When my grandfather fought in the second world war, and when this nation's founders fought the British in The American Revolution, it was those same ideals that stood at the forefront of our national consciousness.

We enjoy the hard fought gifts of liberty,and justice, for all as a result of the sacrifices of many.  With that freedom comes our own individual burden of responsibility for the condition of our democracy. 

And while we vote in an exercise of our democratic ideals, that act alone does not satisfy our democratic obligations.

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, our nation was asked to open up our wallets and spend for the sake of the economy.  Consumerism became synonymous with patriotism.

It is a popular idea, that the economic decisions we make, can be a force for good in this world.  Undoubtedly the tactic of "voting with your dollar" can effect change, but it still cannot satisfy our obligations as citizens.  

Today this country faces tremendous challenges.  In the face of these challenges we must bring individuals to account for their actions, however we must not be victims.  

Consumerism cannot be allowed to replace citizenship. Our responsibility to does not end once our representatives are in office. And we must not simply surrender our freedom to victimhood. As citizens of this democracy we are responsible for our own fates and the fate of this nation. Our biggest challenges are not terrorism, or economic calamity, rather they are apathy and dogmatism.

Yesterdays celebration of Dr. King and today's presidential inauguration serve as inspiration, as we each take up action defending against the apathetic and dogmatic tendencies within ourselves.

It is on each of us to take up a cause.  It is on each of us to improve our communities. It is on each of us to listen with humility and empathy to those with whom we disagree.  It is on each of us to be critical and to petition our media and our elected representatives on a frequent basis.  It is on each of us to accept the responsibility of our freedom and to take on the task of making this nation better.

Yes We Can.

No comments: