Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration II

It's been easier for me to say I "love" other countries--I don't know how many times I've said "I love China" and meant it--than saying I love the United States. The phrase has always stuck in my throat because it has seemed to stand in for a denial of the deep problems in the country: its imperial role in the world and its contradictions of class and race at home.

But today, walking and waiting and listening for ten hours in the cold, I got a lot closer to that commitment. Obama has put things back on track, allowed caring about a place where I've grown up to be a struggle, not a done deal--and celebrated that struggle.

The sign in the crowd on the Mall that brought me closest to tears was one that read, "Martin!! We've made it to the top of the mountain."

We may not have quite made it there, but this campaign and the courteous, excited, open-hearted crowd that has descended on Washington, DC give me some hope. And make me think that while allegiance to one nation-state over another is, from a long view, ridiculous, investing in something local, in the ins and outs of making somewhere you, well, love what it should be is a pretty noble cause.

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