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« Under God | Main | The Oath’s the Thing »

January 20, 2009

A Chance Encounter

Inaugural oath As I was drinking a hot chai at the Atlanta Bread Company this morning, I happened to overhear a black grandmother talking on the phone about her daughter, who was attending the Inauguration. She was telling the person on the other end of the line about her daughter's glowing account of the festive and hopeful atmosphere in D.C. The grandmother said, "The tears just keep welling up in me this morning. I'm just so happy to see this day." 

I couldn't resist. When she was off the phone, I approached her and made some comment about what I had heard. I told her that, as a white American, I can appreciate the historical significance of this day, and celebrate just how far our nation has come in racial matters, but I know I can never fully understand what this day means to black Americans. She nodded in agreement, and when I told her that I'm praying for our new president, she thanked me. We spoke for a few minutes more, and then each went about our day.

I have many, many misgivings about our new president, based not on his race, but on several key issues. Time will tell whether God has allowed Mr. Obama to become our president as an instrument of cursing or blessing, of divine discipline or divine renewal. However, I want to be wise and gracious enough to realize what this day means to my fellow Americans whose skin tones are darker than my own. The election of our first black president gives them a hope for the future of their children and grandchildren that I've always enjoyed as a white American. I'm more than happy to see the day when it's their hope, too. 

(Image © Jim Bourg for Reuters)

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