So in honor of President Obama coming out in support of gay marriage, I’m reposting two pieces I wrote for my MySpace a couple of years back. Remember when MySpace was relevant? (Yeah, me neither). At any rate, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the president’s inauguration back in January of ’09, so this first one is all about that.
Yes, We Can: Checks and Balancing Act
4 a.m., 7th & Independence, 14° F, the gates open and several hundred thousand ecstatic fans rush the National Mall. In what should have been a frigid, pushing, shoving mob scene — that rabid mass of humanity instead exchange stories, snacks and handwarmers.
Obviously, I’m an L.A. girl, which means that my idea of a cold day is 45°. And as I mentioned, it was freezing — like, actually freezing — BELOW freezing. Now, I’ve spent a lot of time observing people in tense, crowded and/or volatile situations, and the amazing thing about Obama’s Inauguration was, no one cared — in a good way. They didn’t care that it was cold (so cold), or crowded, or lacking in clean bathrooms, or that there was no entertainment. We all spent about 7 hours hanging around in what amounts to just a basic grassy field, for one 30 minute speech… from the man about to become the leader of the free world. What made this a day I will never forget is that all of these people; black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Irish (FTW!), etc., spent 10 hours together forgetting all of the things that make us different. I expected to find more than a few people rousing rabble, but minus the usual quota of average jerks, the whole crowd was accommodating, patient and just plain excited to be there. I just wish I could have had the kids with me. Admittedly, the attention span of a few dozen orphans fits squarely into the category of “not so much,” but they would have loved the rush of being a part of history.
We got to watch the concert from the day before and then the entrance of the who’s-who of D.C.’s political elite, marred a bit by the boo-ing of Bush. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Bush fan by any means, but I did have hopes that we could be a bit more classy. Ah, well, in some ways that’s the best thing about being an American. Even when it takes that class out of us — we’re still able to express ourselves without fear of reprisal. That’s something, again, that I’d have loved to show the kids. I mean, sometimes we don’t even know how good we have it. Just that simple right to criticize our government is a gift we’ve been given — it’s something so many other countries deny. Of course that then dovetails into the abuse of that gift; which leads us to Fury of Solace. Part of what makes our country great is the ability to openly oppose the ruling class. We have a free media, we can protest, we can take legal action — we can rally the support of the people and overturn laws and mandates for the greater good. But, when someone takes the law into their own hands, they jeopardize that right to protest.
Our system is flawed — every system is. But unless we maintain order and remember the value of a human life, all the privileges we take for granted will disappear. As a product of the system, I know that things aren’t perfect — far from it. We have to make changes together, though, as a community. We all have to be on board to make any lasting changes. If all of us ran around playing judge, jury and executioner, we’d be no better than the dictators and despots we collectively revile. Okay, so, that’s a lot of fancy jargon for — if we go around punching the kids that make us mad, we’re all going to end up with black eyes — but it’s true.
Hmm, how ever did I get on this soap box? Where did it come from, and how can I get rid of it? 😉
The day ended with an inspiring speech from Obama, followed by the parade. A parade in which the nation’s first black president (in a country where tradition holds that some people are created more equal than others) got out of his bullet-proof limo and cheered alongside his fellow citizens who elected him to the high office — without an ounce of fear. It was incredible. Words cannot describe.
Getting back to my hotel afterwards, on the other hand… now that was a nightmare!