Hope, Fear, Change and Indifference

I had the unique opportunity today to watch the new President of the United States be sworn in, as well as give a rousing ~20 minute speech about where we are, and where we are headed. Something amazing happened while I sat streaming the event through Hulu; other students began to crowd around and discuss what was going on, and expressed all of their feelings about what will happen to us over the next four years.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

The overwhelming majority of the students who joined me on this momentous occasion expressed hope for the future. Not just hope for the new President, but also where he and his staff will be taking us in the next four years.

The mention of recession and economic downturn in his speech seemed to elicit reactions throughout the small crowd in the computer lab at Allegany College. Though there were only about 15 of us, it was obvious that this man standing in front of us, many miles away, brought to us through the magic and ingenuity of the internet, was the beacon of hope that everyone, young and old, has been looking forward to for ages.

I was certainly overwhelmed with the sense of hope when he began to talk about how and why we need to reform this great country of ours. The idea that we need to begin anew with our “enemies” and seek not conflict, but rather common interest struck a ill-used heart string inside my soul.

In the small group of 15 students, the most common question asked was about the defenses surrounding the new leader of the Free World. Is he behind bulletproof glass? I see that his podium is elevated at an angle that would be hard to get at; do you think the Secret Service trained for all the right scenarios?

I’m not sure–looking at this objectively–if this is a product of our modernized society where we automatically assume the worst and brace ourselves against the impact of that scenario. Something is to be said about the racial and many other factors that would lead someone to believe that our 44th President would be assassinated. Frankly, there is still 4 years of worrying ahead of us if we choose to think in this way.

The word of the year. President Obama’s speech was overflowing with the message of change. We need to change the way we look at natural resources. We need to change the way we view our neighboring countries. We need to change the way we lend a hand to other nations in need, and rethink the way we view ourselves has having relative plenty.

The next four years will be a rocky term for our new President, that is for sure. Who knows if his policies and ideas will in fact point us in the right direction once again to bring our nation back to power.

Though humans tend to fear change, one thing is for sure: change is always happening and will always happen, no matter what we try to consciously do to stop it.

The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change so that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger but in wisdom, understanding and love.

The last theme of the meeting of the viewers was that of indifference. I was amazed to see the people who did not care, or just couldn’t be bothered to come and join us in watching this historic moment.

One student, whom I don’t know, even ventured to say something along these lines:

The world is going to hell, so it really doesn’t matter who is President.

Alright, great job at being a citizen of said world. An attitude of indifference is unacceptable when dealing with things where your voice can be heard. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects your right to go out and scream from the hilltops your descent.

You don’t like the way things are politically in this nation? Are you doing something about it? If you are not trying to better yourself and your country, then why are you bitching?

This was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. Knowing that I participated in the process to bring about change in this world is something that I will never be able to forget. I hope and fear that all will go well, and I cannot wait to see what this nation is capable of in the future.

If you have not personally heard President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, seek it out. If this man does not give you goosebumps while listening to this, then you are not human.