It would almost seem irreverent to write a blog post today and not comment on the inauguration of President Obama. Some writers’ blogs that I follow have been full of joy over his election back in November, but also full of hateful derision for the outgoing administration. It saddens me to see so many jubilant Obama fans who seem unable to celebrate their victory without putting down their defeated opponents.
I wasn’t really a fan of either candidate, but in the end I voted my gut, which meant a vote for McCain. And, as spiritually slothful as I am most of the time, I found myself praying earnestly during the election, for God’s protection and guidance of our country.
And after Obama won the election, I continued to pray for him, and for our country, and for the world, as I will do for the duration of his presidency. I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but just to make it clear how I feel about being an American citizen. Once a candidate has been elected, I believe that all of us should support him with our respect and our prayers. I was saddened greatly during much of President Bush’s years in the White House by the lack of respect given to him by many citizens of our country. And not just lack of respect, but outright hatred. So, I approach this new administration with a prayerful spirit, holding them in my heart with hope.
But also with a degree of fear and trembling. Yes. There’s something a bit too rock-star-ish about the aura that surrounds our new President. And it’s not just the adulation of so many long-suffering African Americans. I don’t mean to take anything away from Obama’s followers’ right to celebrate, but there was something almost erie about the crowd’s rhythmic shouts of “Obama! Obama!” as President-elect Obama approached the platform for his swearing-in this morning.
In spite of my reservations about our new leader, I decided to watch the ceremonies while doing some paperwork and bookkeeping for my mother this morning. And yes, I wanted to be courteous and supportive when my African-American housekeeper arrived at 10 a.m. to clean my house. Sarah is a wonderful woman—and she's raising two grandchildren because their mother is a drug addict and is unable to take care of them. When she arrived, I gave her a few instructions about what needed to be done in the house, and then I told her that she was welcome to sit and watch as much of the inauguration as she’d like.
She shrugged her shoulders and mumbled something about not really being interested, and went about her work. A few minutes later, as she came back into the kitchen, where I had my work spread out on the kitchen table, I said something to her about the significance of Obama becoming President. Her response surprised me:
“Just because his father was Black, that don’t mean he’s going to be a good President.”
“No, it doesn’t,” I chose my words carefully, “but don’t you think it’s an important victory for civil rights in this country?”
“Not really. It just shows that Black folks care more about electing a Black President than they do about taking care of business. He talks a good talk and gets everyone riled up, but I don’t believe he can do half of what he promises.”
I was a bit stunned, but I walked through the door Sarah had opened in our conversation. “Well, I didn’t vote for him, but it wasn’t because of his race. It’s mainly because there’s something in his character I’m not sure I trust. And also his approach to fixing the economy. And I’d have a hard time voting for someone who supports abortion.”
Wanting to end our conversation on a positive note, I said, “Well, all we can do is pray for him and hope for the best, don’t you think?”
“Oh, yes ma’am. But I ain’t holding my breath. I hopes I’m wrong, but we’ll see.”
I hope you’re wrong, too, Sarah. I hope President Obama and the men and women he chooses to help him make decisions that will help our country become healthier in every way. And I’m thankful to be part of a church that prays for our leaders at every service of the Divine Liturgy, and encourages its members to pray for them.
So, tonight before I go to sleep, I utter this prayer:
Lord have mercy on President Obama and his family, and grant him wisdom and moral courage as he leads our nation for the next four years. Amen.