| Happy warrior campaigns in Montreal|
January 21, 2009
By Justin Trudeau
nsnews guest editorial
Presidential inauguration speeches echo through American history, and the expectations were high that Barack Obama would call upon the great ones of the past.
He is challenged with a nation divided, but he didn't draw on Lincoln's "better angels of our nature"; he is facing a massive financial crisis, but he didn't dig into Roosevelt's "unscrupulous moneychangers"; he is a fresh, exciting idealist, but didn't even remind us of Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."
Instead, he invoked George Washington and the revolution that created the United States. He returned to a moment stripped of all but "hope and virtue." That was the beginning of America, and it is to those fundamentals that he reached.
But what kind of tools are hope and virtue alone?
Surely we need stimulus for the economy, regulation for the banks, protection for the environment, jobs for the jobless, subsidies here, investment there ... Surely hope and virtue are just rhetorical flourishes, not the tools he plans to use to set the world on a new course?
Surely we need action, not just pretty words? But President Obama told us that those will indeed be how he brings change to America. For actions, behaviours and habits will never change unless mindsets, assumptions and expectations are first shifted.
We've long known that the massive, global challenges facing our economies, our environment, our quest for social justice and our desire for peace would require the participation of everyone. With his first speech, President Obama just reminded us all that our efforts can only be successful if they begin in our hearts and minds.
For the next four years, the most powerful man on the planet will be so not because he can affect our lives and world, but because his words can touch our souls. And we've never needed it more.