Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hopes and Fears of all the Years

Yesterday was an historic day in our nation, as Barack Obama became the first African-American to ascend to the office of President. His journey started in 2004 as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, and many people (including myself) said "that is our next President."

Your thoughts on the last 8 years depend greatly on your partisan identity. President Bush should not be automatically thrown under the bus as his legacy. There is nothing wrong with critique and evaluation, that is all part of the study of history. Truthfully, economic issues are more the fault of Congress and the banking industry than the White House. I have often heard that the President gets too much credit and too much blame for things like the economy. We should remember President Bush as a crusader to protect our national security. He answered a call that very few in our history have had to answer, and in dealing with 9/11 he was an amazing ambassador of freedom and the right person to lead a manhunt to find bin Laden and stamp out terrorism on domestic soil. That said, his legacy will be forever tainted with the double war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Public opinion has swayed based on intelligence findings showing that the war was perhaps premature, and no WMD's were discovered in Iraq. Just because a war is unpopular does not mean it was not necessary. World War II was much more devestating and costly to our nation, yet few would argue that Hitler and Hirohito did not need to be dealt with. The same can be said for Hussein, who led campaigns of genocide against his own people. Iraq has the promise of being a democratic leader in the middle east. We should pull out and leave, but let us not forget that in one day at Antietam there were thousands of casualites, and no crying mothers and protest groups were calling for Lincoln to abandon the fight.

Tuesday was the turning of a new chapter in our nation. We have a President who was brought up in a mixed family, was a collegiate athlete, worked his way through Harvard Law, and crusaded for civil rights and mobilizing communities in Chicago. He has embraced the technology of our day, has sought to strengthen the nation by unity, and has tried to reach across the Grand Canyon of politics, to the conservative evangelicals. Watching the festivities online (was in the middle of the GRE exam during the event itself), I could not help but think how far our country has come in 50 years. Living in Memphis has taught me that some people do still see in color, and that racism is real and still an issue in our society. I am amazed that only 40 years after the assassination of Dr. King, a black man is standing in the White House. It is truly a great day for us as a nation, that the melting pot of America still means something, and that anyone regardless of race or nationality can become President.

All the excitement about the Obama administration must be tempered however, because I cannot support or endorse or stand behind his views on the sanctity of human life. Many times he has asserted that a woman has the right to choose when and if to end her pregnancy, regardless of the state of development of the infant. As a Christian, this is a very tough pill for me to swallow. As a Christian, I believe life begins at conception, and that all life is a gift from God, and that human life is indeed valuable because each person by being a person contains the spark of the Divine, the Imago Dei. The taking of any innocent life is wrong, and I would go so far as to trade in the death penalty if it meant the abortion rulings could be overturned.

It breaks my heart to know that the next four years promise many great things for our country, and many new changes that hopefully will restore America's standing in the world. But my greatest fear is that because of an administration, a Congress, and a general populace that ascribes less and less value to human life, the next four years could be four years of weeping and mourning for the many of us who still believe life is more than a commodity or convenience. I pray that the day comes when all human life is respected, valued, and given worth as more than a thing or cluster of cells. Until then, I pray for all the women of every age who are considering terminating a pregnancy that they would consider other options besides ending a life. May God help us all.

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