My husband and I, along with probably hundreds of millions around the world, watched the changing of the U.S. government on January 21st. Whatever your politics, it was something wonderful to watch…the peaceful transfer of power. As I listened to our new president make his speech and gazed at the faces in the crowds, I was struck by the hope that was reflected in their eyes. A hope for our country and our fellow Americans. I am not a political junkie but I have been mesmerized by the recent election. I listened to Barack Obama read his book, “The Audacity of Hope” and understood why he inspires so many people. He calls upon each of us to look within and find that civility, that potential, that concern about our fellow human being, and the desire to work together to find a solution…so much of this gets trampled or put aside in our busy lives.
As I watched the ceremonies, I thought about so much conflict in the rest of the world and I felt, as I do so often, very grateful to be an American…to live in this country where multiculturalism is a part of our daily lives and we can find different ways of expressing ourselves. Where I can have Indian food one night and pizza the next and have it be just a normal part of my week. Where my daughter can take ballet and Indian dance classes and then come home and watch Dora or the Cheetah girls go to India. Where my children can express both their Indian and American selves by celebrating all the traditions and holidays.
As a cultural historian, I fully understand all the historical significance of having a multicultural family in the White House. But I also have to say, I just like the Obamas as a family. Barack and Michelle have so much affection and respect for each other and I think that they set a nice tone as our First Couple. As a mother, I also like the values they instill and expectations they have with their children. Michelle Obama said that her children will make their own beds in the White House. It seems like a small thing but I think it sets a tone and teaches the children that there are rules to be followed and expectations to fulfill.
Like the hundreds of millions around the world, I also have hope with this new administration. Hope for a more peaceful and secure world…a more civil world…more equality and more joy.