President Barack Obama was officially sworn into office at 11:55 A.M. on January 20, 2013. As he reflects back over the last four years, he must be thinking some of the following:
• Change is not easy but it’s not impossible
• Congress is more divisive and dysfunctional than we ever thought
• Pres. Obama cannot make change happen alone
The most important take away from the last four years is that President Obama cannot do it alone. We all have a collective duty in this country. It is a government of “we the people, by the people and for the people.” And that means, we all have a collective duty to make change to our government. We cannot just sit by idly and complain that government is broken and not working.
Some efforts can be as small as writing an email, letter or making a phone call to our representatives and letting them know what we think. Other efforts can be larger such as lobbying through our respective organizations. We all have the right to visit our representatives in person whether on Capitol Hill or in our home districts. And we always have the power to vote out those who do not share our personal beliefs. The latter would be the greatest help to our President.
Our representatives have health insurance, pension benefits, sick leave, tons of days off and a long host of other perks. We, as the middle class, are fighting for our fair shake in society whether it is for education and safety for our children, implementation by our states of the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, gun control or Medicare and Social Security benefits. We are all in this together. The question is not whether our government will work. The question is what will we as citizens do to make it work. It is our duty to help to make our government work. So we need to stop complaining and take some action. And we don’t need to wait for something big to happen.
Having a sense of excitement, expectancy and ecstasy in the first inauguration, I now have a deeper sense of duty and commitment. As an African American, I still have a great sense of pride that Barack Obama is President of the United States. And if you are one of the ones who are not fortunate to be in the 1% income bracket, your work should begin immediately.
The words of President John F. Kennedy during his inauguration are as relevant today as they were in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Pres. Kennedy in his 1961 inauguration speech went on to state:
So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us.
Now let’s get to work and get the job done.