Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today, January 20, 2009

For today, more than almost any other day I can think of, I have struggled to create a rhyme suitable to the occasion. But everything I've come up with has been trivial and insignificant in comparison to the moment.

Because today, more than most in history, signals the triumph of an idea. We sometimes think of history as a succession of great people, geopolitical forces, and natural events. But it is ideas that drive the great people, and ideas that stir the geopolitical forces. Even natural events become significant because of the ideas they engender. Truly, ideas are the engine of history.

Yet rarely can we point to such a clear milestone and say "This idea is coming to fruition."

It's been a long and terrible struggle. It gestated during the centuries when Africans were dragged from their homes, packed into ships, and, if they were lucky, brought to the new world to be sold as property. It developed when the United States went to war with itself over the question of whether prosperity should be sacrificed for the cause of freedom.

And this idea began its painful delivery with the marches, the demonstrations, the speeches, the sacrifices, the lynchings, the bombings, and the thousand skirmishes that showed, above all, that this idea was coming no matter what.

Today is not the end of the struggle. There is still much hard work to be done. The message will have to be delivered again and again, all over the country and around the world. People will resist, backslide, and forget.

But today, at least, we can celebrate how far we've come.

2 comments:

Marion Eldridge said...

Great piece, Peter. I also enjoyed the oath (above). Maybe someone will write about the oaf of office - John Roberts. Now there was something great and dumb!

Peter Davis said...

Thanks, Marion. Yeah, *oaf* of office ... I like that!