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This Atheist’s Views On Obama’s Inauguration

January 21, 2009

Today is President Obama’s first full day in office. In celebration of this wonderful day I would like to write about his election and what I thought about his inauguration speech.

I voted for President Obama; both in the primaries and the general election. When I saw him on the news as a potential candidate a friend and I did some research on him and I liked what I saw. I saw a young Democrat filled to the brim with ambition and a background diverse enough to show promise of real understanding. He had real experience with common Muslims; his mother was an atheist, so he could see past the crude caricature drawn of us by the polemics. He knew his faults and freely admitted them. He may not have as much experience as his peers, but he showed the wisdom they lacked.

When he officially entered the race I jumped behind him. I’ve had one of his bumper stickers on my car for almost two years now. I talked most of my family into voting for him, save my brother and his wife (he didn’t vote, she was upset over Clinton’s demise and behaved childishly), though the effort was in vain since Missouri went for McCain. My friends and I accosted talked to coworkers (most of them good friends) about who they were voting for and had some really good political discussions. Military personnel are not too squeamish to talk about this kind of stuff with, unlike civilian jobs. I like to think we had an impact on the election. We all used to go out for ice cream at a local Cold Stone for every primary date he won (ex: Super Tuesday was counted as one win).

I had planned to watch his inauguration online during my lunch break but they opened up one of the conference rooms for viewing it; that meant watching the event on two very large TV’s and a moderately sized projection screen all at once. Unfortunately that idea was squashed by a friend of mine needing a pickup from dropping off a rented Uhual. He owes me big time. I managed to find it on the radio while driving there and the invocation started about the time he got in my car. We both sat in silence as Rick Warren made his pleas to the Great Pumpkin and then Justice Roberts messed up the oath, I didn’t know it at the time, I just thought Obama was nervous and was amused by it. I was less than happy about the use of “so help me God” but I’m honestly so excited to be rid of Bush that I don’t care enough to really bitch about it. I think Roberts shouldn’t have said it and left it up to Obama and Biden to decide whether to add it in but “..meh”.

Then Obama gave his speech, which I felt was perfect for the moment. I think he really set the tone of his administration with that speech; we’ll have to see. He listed out the problems ahead for us and how he intended to fix them, an offer of peace to the entire world, and he even mentioned us non-believers, the first president that I’ve heard say anything about us that wasn’t bathed in hate. He was very inclusive. About ten minutes through the speech I had arrived at my friend’s house (we’ll call him Z from now on); I parked and we both listened intently to the rest of the speech. Then Z got out and I returned to work with a free chicken salad he got for me for the favor. Then there was a poem I wasn’t very into and some more praying from Rev. Lowery, I wasn’t very fond of his remark “when white will embrace what is right” since it was very likely to be divisive and this election is about inclusivity and the righting of wrongs.

Z voted for Obama but not without reservations (absentee ballot from Baghdad, Iraq), he just couldn’t bear to think what might happen if McCain got into office. I also like to think I had a hand in convincing him it was the best decision.

A lot of people, me included, have their hopes for the future of our nation invested in this man. If he royally screws up there won’t be a place on Earth he can hide from them. I know he realizes how much is in his hands; how many hopes and dreams and lives are his to either nourish or crush, he’s done well so far. We’ll just have to keep both eyes on him and do our best to help this administration pick up our fallen country. It’s just as much our job as it is his.

Quotes from his speech I really liked:

“On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

“We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.”

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus–and non-believers.”

“…know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy…”

“…we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”

 So what did you think about the inauguration? How do you feel about the hat-tip Obama gave us non-believers?

9 Comments
  1. January 21, 2009 2:06 pm

    so far, i’m just happy that instead of Bush’s questioning my citizenship, atheists got a shout out! i need to watch the speech a few more times.

  2. January 21, 2009 2:37 pm

    Yea no kidding! They have it on XBox Live so I got to see it when I got home. Now I just need to find a podcast where I can download the speech.

  3. January 21, 2009 3:38 pm

    It feels good to be considered “an American” again. ;)

  4. January 21, 2009 4:53 pm

    Here’s the best version I could find:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/1/20/145932/871/865/686621

  5. January 21, 2009 6:30 pm

    Here ya go.

    This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

    I know he ain’t talking for me, or you or thousands of other Americans whose confidence in America and its future in no fucking way comes from believing in some magic sky daddy. Wtf?!

  6. January 21, 2009 6:34 pm

    some one on the news last night pointed out that Obama won’t be able to achieve his aims in two years. It will probably take all eight. I just hope the American people will give him a chance and don’t kick him out after four years if he hasn’t quite got everything done.

  7. January 22, 2009 7:39 am

    I was very grateful for the “non-believers” part. I think it showed great insight on his behalf. Even though it probably pissed off some right wing religious freaks.

  8. DarwinWasRight permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:04 pm

    I too am glad Bush is gone. I’m not one to be inspired much by rhetoric. I’ll reserve my judgments for the action that follows the inauguration. BTW, the mere brief mention of non-believers isn’t much of a crumb for us atheist types. It’s sad that we are so desperate that we are even glad for this little bit of recognition. :( I was a little disappointed in all of the focus on prayer and prayer services. Seemed be a little over the top to me.

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