My friend Michelle asked me to participate in an article she is putting together for KoreAm Journal, which will piece together reactions of today's inauguration. I was extremely chuffed to be asked to contribute, particularly to give my perspective as an American living abroad.
I was originally going to mark this historic occasion with a typically eloquent post that looked something like this:
But I think what I sent to Michelle is ok too:
This was also about the time when Obama's own presence was causing rumblings within political discussions. Momentum began to build and I got caught up in his message of hope and tried to quell strands of cynicism that had built over the years of the previous administration.
I saw the inauguration in a very unlikely place, the work gym. I positioned myself directly in front of the tv. It was on mute, so I had to follow the captions. It didn't really matter. When the camera panned to show the mass of people who had arrived to witness the ceremony I felt simultaneously quite alone, an ocean away, and yet also a part of this historic moment. It was breathtaking, and not because I was on a treadmill.
Americans are characterized by a number of traits, both positive and negative. We are viewed as loud-mouthed, confident, fond of long words, impulsive, and above all, enthusiastically optimistic, particularly when juxtaposed against the British approach of realistic caution. While I usually try not to resemble a stereotype, when Senator Feinstein introduced our 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, I couldn't help myself. I made the smallest fist pump and murmured under my breath "YES!"
*What* actually changes is not actually up to Obama, it's up to us.
Recovery, Renewal, Responsibility