The title is a line of Elizabeth Alexander's poem from today's Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. When I asked my students what they thought of it, they said the only part they remembered was "A teacher says 'Take out your pencils. Begin.'" Actually, they thought the whole event was awesome. I do too.
This is going to be one of those crystallized moments of history, the few that you always remember where you were, what you were doing, who you were with...JFK getting shot, man on the moon, 9/11... There was a sparkle in the air, even from 3000 miles away, with a somewhat choppy internet stream. This is the America I believe in, the one worth belonging to and fighting for, the one that lifts hearts and shows us a better way, the one in the dream; this is my America.
It's a perfect time to be studying US history; we just wrapped the Constitution. I can almost feel the presence of those men as they wrote the documents that define our lives. Scandalous, whoring drunks they may have been, but the Founding Fathers did something incredible (as did the women, of course, though we don't see their names!). The enormity of creating a nation - a work still in progress - is just mind-boggling. But today. Oh, President Obama. Yes, we can. I know all our problems aren't going to disappear; we aren't going to turn into magical unicorns prancing through starlight, it's not the Age of Aquarius...but for a moment, I can drop my cynical remarks and angry reactions, and just feel. Feel the joy, and hope, and redemption, and yes, love.
What else could be the mightiest word? What kind of a world can we create?