Washington D.C. was invaded this week by frenzied devotees. President Obama’s ascension has been heralded as the initial change foreshadowing a revolution in American society. Commentators claim that he represents a renewal of American resiliency as we collectively lick our psychological wounds from an embarrassing history of discrimination and the recent realization that we are not immune from losing our position of supreme economic power. The weight we have put on our new president is immense and so far he has lived up to his reputation as “No drama Obama” by not letting the pressure show.
But we all need to face reality.
The problems facing this country are extensive. There is a lot that needs to be done and we should all acknowledge that one man cannot do it all himself. Even with an arsenal of executive enforcement and the admiration of millions, President Obama alone will not be the fundamental solution to our problems.
The change we wish to see will come from a grass-roots level. The greatest strength of President Obama is not the fortitude he will bring to the Office, but his ability from that fortitude to inspire those who, election after election, have yet to be rattled into action. The answer to when a noticeable change will come relies on how long we collectively stay inspired. Inspiration can certainly flee quickly when the excitement of a new and definitively extraordinary president has passed. The idea may be untimely sobering, but excitement will lapse - the question is whether we will then return to the disappointment we have mastered during the last eight years.
The best way to beat disappointment at its own game is to confront the inevitable: President Obama will fail to deliver every change we individually and perhaps collectively wish to see. When expectations are set to an extraordinary level, it is impossible to meet them and the high expectations we have set for him will only worsen the blow when he cannot deliver. Therefore, we all need to step back and question what we will hold President Obama accountable for. Even during his inaugural address, Obama put us on notice that “challenges...will not be met easily or in a short span of time.” A lack of dramatic and overwhelming success by the new administration is something for which we must all prepare ourselves for.
Change will not come from the top-down but instead from the bottom-up as President Obama inspires us, in the words of Ghandi, to “be the change [we] wish to see in the world.” All of our hopes cannot be placed with Obama and he is not the only answer to our prayers. It is with him, that communities will begin to correct the wrongs of our past.
-Michelle Gajewski is a