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“We Were All There”: Thoughts on the Inauguration

January 22, 2009

inauguration-01-20-2009Like most of the country, I spent Tuesday following the ritual inauguration in our nation’s capitol on a variety of media. As any reader of this blog knows, though I voted for Obama, I have criticized the way his campaign marginalized the issue of domestic and global poverty and the other ways that his campaign ignored rather than challenged the most destructive aspects of Empire America. But today I want to celebrate just how important his election is for this country and the world.

Dignity and community – these are the essential elements of transcending the ravages of poverty; these are the essence of a good life, the things that have most tragically been destroyed by the economic and social marginalization of the poor. The remarkable campaign and election of Barack Hussein Obama embodied and articulated the hope and long struggle of marginalized people for dignity and equality in this country and around the world. Thus, though we will have to work hard to push Obama toward the real change we need, it may be that Obama has already done more to lift up the poor than any other president.

ellamae_540I watched the inauguration and speech in awe. But the most moving moment for me was NPR’s story about Ella Mae Johnson, the 105-year-old African American woman from Cleveland who braved the bitter cold and winds huddled in a sleeping bag to see the inauguration in person. Thinking of all of the painful history that her long life embodies as a witness to this moment cracked me wide open. I cried. Her words were simple, but seemed to sum up the hope and redemption of the moment:

We were all there; we were there waiting. It didn’t matter what my color was. It didn’t matter what your color was. And I could not ask for anything better.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 4, 2010 8:21 pm

    Please….the whole thing was about ‘color’….you sold your soul..from, Judith
    Election Part I: “We Have No King But Caesar”-Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
    President, Human Life International
    The following is the first of a three-part series on the 2008 Elections. In the next two weeks we will deal with issues of Culture and Conscience.
    Now that the election is over, we can separate the real Catholics from those who just act the part. Those still reeling from the results of the election can rest assured that they are in good company with the saints. Those who have drawn a line in blood and made a decision to stand with the culture of death need a serious examination of conscience. Now look at what we’ve done to ourselves. America has made her “choice” for maximum leader and it is not pretty. In fact, it is one of the most devastating blows to American civilization that we have ever undergone, and I do not speak in hyperbole. Even such a saintly figure as Mother Theresa said that “a nation that kills its children has no future;” likewise, an authority like Fr. Benedict Groeschel recently commented that we have entered into “the beginning of the twilight” of our country – dire words that touch on the reality of electing the most extreme, pro-abortion candidate America has ever had the misfortune of occupying the highest office of our land.
    This has happened before though. When the prophet Samuel complained to God that the people of Israel were asking for a king, the Lord God replied that they were not rejecting Samuel but were in actual fact rejecting God Himself, His sovereignty and His authority over them (cf. 1 Sam, ch. 8). He also told Samuel that the people would have to accept the consequences of their wicked desire, and as we know, the craven need to be like the surrounding pagan nations was a bitter pill for them to swallow. The people of Israel echoed that rejection of their God more than a thousand years later when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords stood before them in Herod’s derisive purple robe and the people shouted, this time with vehemence: “We have no king but Caesar!” In essence, we have chosen a Barabbas over Christ – again.
    And choices have consequences they say. The consequences of this election will be imprinted upon our national conscience for years to come, one of which is that, by electing abortion extremists to rule over us, both in the Presidency and in the Congress, we have now lost the blessing promised in Psalm 41:1-4 – “Happy those concerned for the lowly and the poor; when misfortune strikes, the Lord delivers them. The Lord keeps and preserves them, makes them happy in the land, and does not betray them to their enemies. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed.” It is hard for Americans to imagine that a land so consecrated could be shriven of that blessing. Yet, we have made our sickbed and we must lie in it.
    This did not happen, though, without dire and prolonged warnings about the institutionalization of evil. We can’t say we were not warned. When moral persuasion about the killing of innocents did not work, rational science was our witness. When science was ignored and then co-opted for the works of death, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases came to awaken people’s consciences, but these did little better. God then had to allow such an onslaught of terrorism, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and tsunamis in the past decade that He surely thought we would wake up to the deadly reality of the culture of death and repent. When that didn’t happen, He hit us in the most sensitive spot on the human body: our wallets. The gas price hikes and the recent financial meltdown surely would do the trick, He thought, but apparently that did not work either because our people adamantly refused to be deterred at any price from our lust for abortion and put into office all those who would serve the interests of this unholy agenda for decades to come. Alas, we all need to get on our knees and repent from the very depths of our hearts for the plague that we have just invited onto our beloved nation.
    At the same time, my friends, despite the dismal picture, this is a time to thank Almighty God for the gifts of life, love and family that we have been given. It is also the time to seriously engage in efforts to take the culture back so that eventually our politics will follow the growth of a new pro-life culture from the seeds we are planting today.

    Sincerely Yours in Christ,
    Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
    President, Human Life International

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