The Gist

Amidst all the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural ceremonies, and the wonderful sound of words and ideas being arranged deliberately and artfully by the man in charge of the country, there was one thing our new President said that hit home for me:

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

I have long said that one problem with our political language is the metaphor of America as our ancestor. In that comparison, we are children; we have no responsibility to America other than to offer it a generalized respect of the sort the Fourth Commandment demands. If America is the parent, it's going to make all the hard decisions for us; it's going to feed us and clothe us and take care of us when we're sick. It's the one driving, while we sleep peacefully in the back seat, knowing we'll reach our destination, whatever it may be, even if we ourselves don't know the way.

What I've long said--and what our new Chief Executive seems to recognize as well--is that we are not America's children. We are America's parents. 

We are the ones who make the decisions.  We feed the nation and worry about it when it's ill.  We teach America what's right and what's wrong and pass judgment on what it does. 

The country goes nowhere if we don't take it there; the steering wheel is in our hands, and the route we take is ours to decide.

At long last, I have heard my President speaking to me, and he was treating me like a grown-up.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on January 20, 2009 11:34 AM.

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