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January 26, 2009


A gorgeous essay, Beth. I feel privileged to be in on this conversation.

I am learning how to be hopeful again, how to feel ownership of and pride in my country again, after eight long years of feeling alien(ated) and alone. But this essay raises good points I would do well to remember. For that I thank you.


I must admit that as I watched the inauguration from the safe distance of north of the US-Canada border, I wondered how those who had voted for McCain, and before him for Bush, were feeling as they watched the inauguration. Were they also feeling euphoria, or was it rather anger or bitterness or some other more malevolent feelings? Those who base their position on political dogmas are unlikely to see nuance or the possibilities that hope and a change in leadership open up. You are right, the cultural problems remains, as do the economic and social problems that structure American society. I wish my American neighbours well in the coming years….


Thanks for bringing up the prison-industrial complex. It always amazes me when people try to claim we've outlawed slavery. (Great post over-all, too.)

Realism smack dab in the middle of the reddest state in the nation is a bit harsh. I find myself wanting to hold on to inauguration day, to celebrate each small change for the better.

Last week we bought a new television to replace the one my youngest destroyed with a Wii. The man who delivered it commented on some local news which I had missed, glued to the inauguration as I had been the day before. I told him so, and he said that he was afraid for our country, that he had voted for Bush and thought that he had basically done a good job in office. People confound me. I honestly don't know how a thinking person could believe Bush basically did a good job.

I could not get that man out of my house fast enough.

Movingly put. I'm proud and grateful to know US Americans like you and Teju, and to know there are so many like you in the great country that overshadows my poor perverted little England. Obama gives me hope. You give me hope.

'this gentler, more self-reflective place where we feel able to be citizens of the world and not merely of one nation' is blessed that you and Jonathan make your lives with us.

and the world is blessed by your courage to live with paradox and ambiguity without despair

a powerful post

This was a deeply moving and strengthening post for me, Beth. I do feel hopeful but you're wise to point out that the forces of greed and fear are still strong. We must stay vigilant and shine light where and how we can. It seems to me we have to fight a battle in ourselves too, that we have to choose faith over and over again. As you say, cynicism will not take us where we want to go. I spent a lot of time in the black community when I in my twenties as my then husband was a blues musician. The laughter and strength of spirit changed me forever. I was thrilled that we caught a little of that spirit in the benediction—there was the humor, the hope, the forgiveness and the knowing. Thanks so much for this.

That image of him walking in the corridor has stayed with me as well. I'll never forget that expression and the way he held his head.

I came across your blog while cruising for images for my art history course I am teaching. I attended the inauguration as you did and must have been rather close to you too. I can't believe this day finally arrived. I grew up in a racially mixed family, moved with my mother to S.C. when quite young to live next to the KKK where I couldn't mention my black step-mother or bi-racial cousin out of fear. I remember vividly the day I learned about what the KKK stood for and what that meant for me. I, like so many, worked hard to campaign for this man, cried on election day from overwhelming love of my fellow countrymen and danced on cloud 9 through the city streets of Chicago following the election. Yes, you are right, we have so much to do, and we must get it. Thanks for your post and check out my blog at http://artivention.blogspot.com/ where I have images of a activist art project for the Guantanamo detainees. An artist just trying to make a difference!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.