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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Leadership

We returned from our retreat just in time to gather round CNN by satellite and watch the inauguration. I sat between Caleb and Ivan, both born in Africa, watching this man with an African father ascend to the powerful position of president. He's a third-culture-kid, as ours are. And more striking to me (because Obama's connection to his father seems slim and his pigment almost unnoticeable to our Africa- trained eyes), the first lady emerges from a family that truly did have generations in which slavery and oppression were the dominant reality. We marveled at the music and prayed along with Pastor Rick Warren in our hearts for the wisdom and balance and courage only God can give. We gasped along with hundreds of millions of others as the supreme court justice fumbled the short 35 word oath. We concentrated on the meaning behind the speech from the perspective of our neighbors, listening, hoping that American impact will improve their lives in some way. We laughed aloud with pleasure in the rolling cadences of the benediction.

But mostly we saw a leader. I do not know Obama's heart, and can not predict the balance of good and evil he will usher into the next four years. But the world watched America yesterday, hummed our Star- Spangled Banner (Pat was made to sing it solo at the workshop she's attending today, and I can tell you that has NEVER happened to us in Uganda before!!), and considered that we may represent a nation that embraces justice and sacrifice and honor and ideal and not just wealth and power. I believe it was a taste of the way my parents' siblings strode into the 1940's and the leadership that decade wrested from them. It was fun to join from across the world the excitement of the day and see the boost Obama's leadership gives our African friends. They gather from his smile, his poise, his rhetoric, his stride, that he is ready to lead.

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