Wednesday, January 21, 2009

(Almost) Speechless in Jackson

Ludwig Wittgenstein concluded his first great treatise on philosophy with the words, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." That is how I have felt about the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. Here is the closest I can come to describing my views in this momentous time in our history.

The presidency of Barack Hussein Obama marks a drastic leap forward in the tortured history of race relations in the United States. At the same time, President Obama's Administration heralds a new day when the term "liberal" is not a radioactive word that dare not be spoken, but embodies the American people's ideals and mandate.

But I do take exception to the notion that President Obama's election and inauguration fulfills the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. I think it is only a passageway to that fulfillment. That one African-American man can be elected does not prove that life is now fair for the vast numbers of Americans of racial and ethnic minorities, female Americans, and/or Americans living in poverty. As the President said yesterday, our success is measured by "the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart—not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good."

That is what Dr. King called The Beloved Community.

And that, if we accomplish it, is his Dream.

May our new President and Congress be able to achieve a measure of it.

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