mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)


In some of the Psalms that we recite in synagogue, there is a Hebrew word whose exact meaning is unknown: selah. The word "selah" usually shows up when there is a break between two phrases, so some scholars tend to think that it was a note to people singing the psalms to pause for a moment before moving on.

Today is a day for selah. Today is a day to pause and reflect.

I often find myself consciously not blogging about major (or even minor) events that happen in the course of the week, because I feel that I have little to add to the general discourse. For example, last week we saw the deaths of two actors whose performances I enjoyed, as well as an emergency landing of a plane in the Hudson River that many called miraculous. I pondered adding my voice to the cacophony of discussion about these events, but realized I had little to say other than to note that they happened. So I remained silent.

But today's major historic event compels me to take note, even if I feel that anything I can add would be obvious at the best and banal at the worst. Still, here are my thoughts, for what they're worth.

Barack Obama was not my first choice for president among the crowded field of candidates we had running. Yes, it was rather evident that I'd end up voting for the Democrat in the general election, no matter who it would turn out to be, but early on in the process Obama struck me as someone who could use more experience before running for president.

However, the closer he came to the presidency, the more I learned about him, and the more I found I liked him.

I think what first turned me around was listening to his speech on race. Obama was articulate and intelligent, and more than that, he talked to the American people as if we were adults. He didn't shy away from the controversies inherent in some of his statements, and neither did he ignore the pain that racism and reverse racism causes in all Americans.

I started to read his books, and I found that Obama was a writer, someone who had a delightful facility of expression and an ear for the rhythms of language. Furthermore, Obama was clearly someone who had thought long and hard about who he was, and how others would see him. And, as a science-fiction writer and a comic book reader, I couldn't help but be pleased when Obama made jokes about being sent to Earth from Krypton, or when the press reported that Obama liked to read Spider-Man comics.

I still felt concerned about Obama's lack of experience, but as he started to put together his cabinet, those concerns melted away. He's surrounding himself with the best possible people for their jobs, and making it clear that he intends to listen to all opinions, no matter how controversial, before making decisions.

And, last but not least, there is the fact that Obama is "a black man of mixed heritage," as he describes himself. I know that I can't possibly put myself in the shoes of the many African-Americans who are standing prouder and taller today, but I too am feeling a sense of pride in being an American, a feeling that I haven't enjoyed in far too long.

Look what we've done. Look at what this country is about to do.

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office later today, I'll be watching. And I suspect I'll have difficulty fighting back the tears in my eyes.
Tags: personal, politics

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