I sat in my husband’s office with him and some of his co-workers just now, a squirmy four-year-old on my lap, watching President Barak Obama be sworn in.
Sam wanted to know why we were watching it, instead of coming home and putting away the groceries and eating lunch and doing all those normal daily things that we do.
Because it’s history, I told him. But I didn’t tell him why.
I didn’t tell him that Barak Obama is the first black President of the United States. I didn’t tell him that whatever your political persuasion, watching a person who not too long ago would have had to use a separate bathroom or a separate bus become President of these United States is a powerful, amazing thing.
I didn’t tell him this because at four and six, my children are color-blind. They have not been exposed to the ugliness of racisim, to the horrors wrought upon people simply because of the color of their skin. While I’m sure their minds are aware of the differences in skin color between them and their friends and classmates, to them it matters as little as what color shoes the other person is wearing, or whether they wear glasses or not.
Someday they will have to learn these things. They will have to learn that there are people in this world of all skin colors who are willing to base their opinions of others on something as stupid and superficial as their race. They will learn of the horrible injustices wrought upon other human beings because of differences in skin color, language, religion, and way of life– often in the name of the God that we are teaching them to love and honor.
And when they learn these things, when they are no longer racially innocent, then they will understand why it is so historic and amazing that Mr. Obama has been voted in as our forty-fourth President. Then they will understand that this was a very big deal.
I pray for wisdom to help them understand that although we did not vote for Mr. Obama, it was not because of his skin color, or his heritage– not because of where he came from– but because of ideological differences. And I hope that they will understand that though we do not agree with our new President in many, many areas, we still respect him and honor him because he is our President, our country’s leader chosen by the people and ordained by God for that job.
I want my children to believe that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave– a place of opportunity for all people, whatever their skin color. A place where people of differing points of view can be friends, can work together, and can respect each other in spite of their differences. And as my kids reach an age where they have at least a small awareness of the world around them, we are given an incredible opportunity to teach them these things.
I had the impression from some of my conservative Christian friends that perhaps the world was going to end today. But you know what? The sun is still shining. The snow is melting here in central Iowa. The flag is still flying.
My God is still on the throne.
And as those millions of people sang the National Anthem together on the television this morning, I still teared up, because this is a great nation, one where all people have the chance to become something greater.
God bless America, land that I love.
And God bless our new President. He is certainly going to need it.