I like this baseball fan/president

Day 20

 

I wasn’t one of the estimated two million people standing in freezing temperatures in Washington D.C.today. I was one of the millions though, who were lucky enough to watch on tv our 44th President of the United States be sworn in and all the hoopla surrounding it.

There were many times during the many hours I watched and thought what does this all mean? Where are we in history and what significance does this moment hold in the overall picture?

I wondered if all those people standing on the mall in 1963 watching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak knew what they were seeing or where they just caught up in the moment? Did they know 45 years later that dream would come true in so many ways and this country would be changed forever?

The history of the moment did not pass me by and I began to ask more introspective questions of what it meant to me. Did I realize the importance of this day or was I just caught up in the pomp and circumstance?

I smiled because I love history and I like to think I have a pretty good handle on it. When I don’t, I make it a point to learn something I didn’t. I knew what I watched today was more than just this day and would go on for so many more years.

The hours went by and I watched so many people looking to one individual for the answers and as I listened to reporters relating their experiences with him I felt more at ease. This was a man over a year ago whose biggest worry was not losing himself in the office and forgetting what had kept him grounded all those years.

He had worked his way up from the bottom and earned everything he was given. Community organizer called to him because he wanted to give back to the community which had given to him. He passed up major dollars to make a difference and I took remembrance of that.

This man won’t change everything in the world, but I felt he is the lightning rod to feed the hopes of so many, much like King and Kennedy did during the ’60s.

I thought back to an argumentative debate, one of many, I had with my father. He was going on and on how his generation had changed this country and how “we” (meaning my generation) had it better because of it. I angrily snapped back and told him yes they did start to create change and we did owe them a lot but they got complacent and stopped. I said, “You lost King and Kennedy and then another Kennedy, Malcolm and then you realized the loss and became complacent. You stopped and got your jobs and when the war was over the movement slowed to a snails pace. You had your homes and started families and this country got lazy.”

On and on it went and I explained to him how my generation lost, in that complacency, an example of how to make change in the mean time. My friends went off to war and came back changed just like his. This idea of helping your neighbor got lost as the “yuppies” cared for the I in the ’80s. The dollar was king and having your piece of the American pie was all that mattered.

When I helped run a homeless shelter for almost 5 years, I saw many people coming to volunteer who had this feeling of “having to” and sometimes not “wanting to.” It was almost as if there was this guilt they had so much and felt it would help them to give back. I never had anything but a smile for them because any volunteer was always welcome.

Today, I hoped so many more would “want to” and do something about it. Just like JFK who challenged Americans to not ask what can the country do for you, today Obama made the call to action for what you can do for you country.

Some people will feel overwhelmed like they have nothing to offer. Having worked in the social sector, I can assure you, everyone has something to offer. Many turn away because they have little money to donate. Give an hour or your time. Some will say they don’t have the time. Go through your clothes you have in your closet with a tag and give them to charity. Maybe you don’t have the time or the clothes to donate. Support the person who does with a cup of coffee or a thank-you card letting them know you appreciate their helping. The basic point- do what you can.

I was glad to see our new president and his renewal of that idea. Too many people want to turn away. I commented on Jane’s blog about her not being at Woodstock and how I was able to see one of the musicians who perfomed there many years later. In a small one hundred seat theater I watched this man (Richie Havens) with an accoustic guitar silently continue the message of those years with his music. In his last song he put down his guitar next to the single stool and stood in the single spot light.

On a small wooden stage raising his arms and using only his voice with no mic, he sang the Pink Floyd song On the Turning Away,

“On the turning away From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say Which we wont understand
Dont accept that whats happening Is just a case of others suffering
Or youll find that youre joining in The turning away…

…No more turning away From the weak and the weary
No more turning away From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share Its not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that therell be No more turning away?

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I was in college when I saw that man sing that song and I remembered how powerful it was and what it meant. Today I felt that same power and can no longer join in the turning away.

I watched as he smiled and I couldn’t help but smile along with Obama. So Mr. Obama if I ever run into you in this lifetime ,I’d like to buy you a beer. In the meantime keep fighting the good fight and hopefully more than a few people take the call to action to heart and start with themselves in being a positive.

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6 comments

  1. juliasrants

    Tom, it is a great day for our country; I think for the world. I saw how much hope there is in the world in the eyes of my first-graders today as they broke into applause after President Obama was sworn in. They might not have understood everything that was going on, but they did understand that they were a part of something important. I will disagree with you a bit on what your generation has to face.

    I fall in between you and your dad in age. My husband and I fall at the very end of the baby boomer generation, though we really have little in common with those who are the older boomers. But Tom, my 1/2 generation (for want of a better term) is dedicated to change and help and volunteerism. We are the ones who have instilled in our children the importance of giving back – and our kids run the food drives at school, who collect the winter coats, who tutor the younger kids. Could we all do better? Yes we could. But Tom, don’t write off your dads generation off. They were a very successful generation – they created a lot of what our country is now known for. And yes, many of them lost their way when Jack, Bobby and Martin were killed. And they also volunteered for the Peace Corp – answering President Kennedy’s call of “ask what you can do for your country.” AND they did pass on to you and your friends a core set of values that inspires all of you to do the great things that you do. All any generation wants is for their children to be more successful then they are. And it terrifies us that this may not happen for our children. These are scary times Tom – yet I feel hopeful today. Maybe we are on the right track. And cut your dad some slack; he did help raise you and he seems to have done a fine job with that. Sorry to ramble on so much!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

    • rockymountainway

      Julia you are more than welcome to ramble on as much as you want and matter of fact I prefer it. I respect your ideas and your words and Im glad to have them here. I do give my dad some slack and yes he had a copy of the Pentagon Papers about watergate in my hand when I was 12 years-old so I would learn and be better and do better. Yes the other half of your generation did an incredible amount and I will always be greatful for that but I often get so tired how they complain gen-x is so complacent! I know there are many who still kept up those ideals and kept the movement alive. You are proof of that. Keep up the food drives and community involvement because you know your boys as well as yourself only benefit from this social conscience. I can only hope this day resonates in millions and on and on it goes from days to weeks to months. I understand a lot of retirees are realizing they could have done more and are starting to join the Peace Corp and become regulars in community organizations and that is so incredible. I hope the youngest as well realize it’s not only about the I and helping can be one of the greatest highs in life you can accomplish. We need more mothers like yourself taking the time to raise their boys like the Obamas are raising their girls. Integrity and hard work. Social awareness not just stopping in your community but beyond into the world. It is a very scary time but like I’ve always said in my blogs-one deed at a time, one person at a time. The task can be overwhelming but taking it one minute at a time we can all change the world for the better. That is not a pipe dream and as John Lennon would say, “People say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”
      -tom

  2. AJRoxMyWhiteSox

    My legal writing assignment due today was to read Martin Luther Kind Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It was the most beautifully eloquent argument I’ve ever read. It reminded me of the “I Have a Dream” speech he gave. I was never really into history unless it really interested me (like World War II, the civil rights movement, and Nixon’s resignation to name a few), but being able to be a part of history makes me truly thankful. I look at Obama, and I feel lucky to be able to say I voted for him. I put my trust in him to run this country the way it should be run. I trust him to fix what needs to be fixed and bring the United States back to the prominence it once held. I think every generation will get complacent when they start growing older. Sure, there are going to be people like you and me who are going to be out there, helping people who need it, changing the world one step at a time. But I sadly think there are going to be so many more that are going to stop helping once they have families and homes. I don’t think it’s just our parents’ generations. I can only hope that more people WANT to help because of Obama rather than feel obligated to do it. Today while watching the news after class, my local ABC affiliate told me about a website Barack Obama and Colin Powell have set up to keep people aware of service opportunities in their area. I signed up for the email updates since you know I’m always looking for ways to help. http://www.USAservice.org for those who are interested. I feel an overwhelming pride, knowing that the new president of this great country wants to help everyone. I also feel pride knowing he comes from my great city of Chicago and roots for my Chicago White Sox, the working man’s team. šŸ™‚ Keep helping, Tom. If it’s only you and me helping, it’s better than no one out there at all.
    Jen
    http://ajroxmywhitesox.mlblogs.com

    • rockymountainway

      Thanks for pointing out that website Jen, very cool. There are so many organizations like the Peace Corps or Americorp or local sites. There are many people out there making a difference and I just hope the “team” gets a million or so new acquisitions with the new coach coming in! I’m sure you’ll study civil rights and the cases that changed America in your law classes. It’s gonna be really cool when you learn how interstate-commerce was used in challenging a lot of laws and making it illegal to separate and divide. Savy young lawyers used Federal law to trump state law and then challenge even more Federal laws. Sometimes I break out the ol’ law books and get reinspired. : )
      -tom

  3. Erin Kathleen

    Tom,
    This is truly a great day in America. For once, I actually feel hopeful about the direction the country is headed. And I too really loved Obama’s call to action, encouraging people to take responsibility for the health of their communities and the country as a whole. If America is going to return to her past glory, it will be because we as a nation work together to make it so.
    -Erin
    http://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

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