Today my school celebrated the inauguration by watching from the pews in the large, beautiful church next door. It's hard to describe the energy that coursed through the building as Obama took the oath and made his speech. Often times as a teacher you find yourself monitoring the experience of your students at the expense of your own experience. You want to make sure they understand the significance of whatever it is you put in front of them and learn the "lesson" you're trying to teach. You want to make sure that the kids "get something out of it," no matter what "it" is. This puts you in a weird position because often times you don't get to experience "it" yourself.
But that wasn't what happened today. The kids around me cheered at every opportunity and booed during all the right moments (I had to stifle a tear when someone said Rick Warren looked like a walrus). The result was that I could be a fellow participant in the moment, rather than an interpreter or instructor. That felt good.
During all the latest hype about Obama, I've had some cynical thoughts about the way that power works and how true change has never come that easy. There's got to be a trap her, right? I guess it's comparable to the feeling I had when I was in 9th grade and Mandela was freed from prison and elected president of South Africa. But, come to think of it, that worked out pretty well. Not perfectly, but pretty daggone well.
Well, the truth is that Obama is bound to disappoint us on some level. Our expectations are too high, too undefined, too too. He's a flawed man and his policies will be similarly flawed. He's raised a lot of money, made a lot of promises, become beholden to a lot of interests to get where he's gotten to.
Update: As if all the overpowering symbolism of the day wasn't enough, peep the stained glass windows of the church:
And if you're wondering, that is a slaveship inside the body of Christ. Deep.