Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope. Service. Responsibility

A few notes before we begin:

  • Matt and I maintain a bipartisan household and, as such, we seek to make this a bipartisan blog. So while this post deals with a political event, I will try to stay away from a discussion on politics.

  • I have been watching CNN pretty much non-stop for the past 2 days (thank goodness I have a job that lets me "work from home")

  • I've probably watched West Wing and American President far more than is reasonable
Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to admit that something amazing happened today. A peaceful transfer of power occurred, not just from one person to another but from one party to another. An African-American became President. The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court screwed up the oath of office (seriously? Dude, it's 38 words long and it's not like you didn't have time to prep or even write down a few notes).

During the non-stop coverage of history in the making, I started to reflect on the 3 themes that seem to have carried us to today...

HOPE - During the campaign, there was a lot of talk about Hope - that it's a good campaign slogan but no way to govern a country, that it's hard to deliver in the face of Washington politics, that it's no reason to vote for someone. And while there's truth in all of those statements, I just have to ask, "What's wrong with hope?" Every day we see stories of increasing unemployment, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies. It's easy to get overwhelmed, scared and depressed. So maybe it's a good thing that someone remind us to have Hope. Seems like we need some right now.

SERVICE - Yesterday was a national day of service in honor of MLK Jr. I hope it's only the first of many. It's so easy to get caught up in our own problems and our own worries. To focus on what's not going right for us or what might not go right. Instead, we need to focus on what we have and on what is going right. It's much easier to do that when you are engaged in helping other, when you realize how relative everything is and how much you truly have to give. So let's give - money, food, time, kindness, a smile. Let's serve - volunteer your time and talent, do a favor, hold the door for a stranger.

RESPONSIBILITY - From President Obama's Inaugural Address:

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty,
courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these
things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of
progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these
truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a
recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves,
our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather
seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the
spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

for the full transcript, click here: ttp://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/20/obama.politics/index.html

You cannot imagine how happy this call for responsibility makes me. Last week, MSNBC posted an article stating that Gen Y is being disproportionately affected by the economy. I found this quote from a 24 year old in CA particularly striking: “Growing up, my parents were telling me, ‘The world is at your fingertips. All you have to do is educate yourself, go to college, and you’d get a prime position right out of school.’ They were wrong.” (you can read the full article here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28663645/)

As someone who manages a lot of Gen Y-ers, I can tell you that many of them demonstrate an alarming lack of responsibility and an abundant sense of entitlement. I hope that those kids who worked so hard to get Obama elected hear this message and start acting with a sense of responsibility, return to values like hard-work and dedication which make the American Dream possible, and stop expecting everyone to do everything for them.

Hope. Service. Responsibility. These are all good things. They are things we need right now. The days and months ahead will be difficult. The problems we have are incredibly hard which means that finding the right answers will be harder and implementing them will probably be hardest of all. But I think that if we have hope, if we serve others and not just ourselves, and take our responsibilities seriously, amazing things can continue to happen.

p.s. I would also like to compliment Michelle Obama on her choice of shoes in a complimentary color to her dress and her ability to find gloves that match the shoes. Way to accessorize!

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