On Monday, Margaret, Geo, and I shared our greatest hopes for Barack Obama’s second term as President of the United States. Concurrently, Barack Obama was sharing his hopes with us. He not only spoke to each of our areas of concern (the environment, immigration, and health care), but to the need for committed engagement in these issues from every member of our society.
We elected Barack Obama because we share his beliefs in social justice, sustainability, equality, and responsibility, but our work in accomplishing those goals is just beginning. In order to see the ideas discussed during the presidential campaign come to fruition through legislation, we must remain participatory in the determination of our future and the future of the United States. Whether it be through letters or phone calls to your congresspeople, discussions with friends, acquaintances, and colleagues about important issues, starting or signing a petition, or organising events in your community, now is not the time to sit back and watch our fate be decided for us. It is not the time to complacently observe our political system and complain when things don’t go how we would have liked.
In his inauguration speech, President Obama said, ‘You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time, not only with the votes we cast, but the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideas.’
We are committed to raising our voices as loudly as we can, not in anger but in passion and compassion. We hope that you will join our chorus. Speak up with your voices, pens, dollars, and actions, and remember that everything you do contributes to the collective consciousness of our nation and helps inform its path.
To help light your fire, below are the remarks President Obama made during his inauguration speech about the issues we addressed on Monday. What will you do to help turn our and President Obama’s hopes and expectations for the next four years into reality?
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But Americans cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.
We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.
We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great.