COMMENTARY | Perhaps it was a coincidence that I was picturing a little boy half a world away in Indonesia, half a century ago, his mind broadened by his experiences, every one of them a snippet of clay forming the man on stage Monday morning. Perhaps it was just serendipitous that I was thinking about the uniqueness, the singularity of President Barack H. Obama while he delivered his inaugural address .
Because it was just as I marveled at perfectly suited he is to our unusual place in history, the president said, “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”
Interestingly, most of the “transcripts” released just after the inauguration do not contain this line; those transcripts consist of the president’s remarks as prepared. This line was not among them, which makes it all the more poignant.
There was something in the energy of that point in time, something I could feel all the way here, states away, through the television and satellite signal, something the president felt and altered his prepared words to say. It is something huge and universal, and something individual, all at once.
The qualities of our 44th president are perplexing to some, particularly those people who would like to dismiss him outright for whatever reason they choose. But they are not anomalous.
They are somehow almost perfectly fashioned, almost artisan-honed to be standing exactly where he was standing Monday morning, being sworn in for the second time. But the remarkable thing isn’t that, or that it seemed clear to him at that second as well. The remarkable thing is what he actually said.
Obama said “we” are made for this moment. Not he. We. “And we will seize it together.”
There is incredible power in that statement. There’s even more incredible power in the carrying out of that idea. What if we change how we view this slice of time that has been, in all reality, often grindingly difficult? What if we shift how we view our relationship to it?
Maybe it wasn’t just that boy in Indonesia who was forged, bit by bit, experience by experience. Maybe it was every single one of us, every American still standing today who are here with some of the greatest responsibilities ever carried by a citizen of this nation.
Maybe, as the president says, every one of us was made for this moment.
We have, in front of us, the possibility of a nation collapsing against itself in strife. We rejected this possibility in November, yet conflict lives for conflict’s sake.
The end to that is us. Not a generic us. A specific us, each one of us with our own skills, our own perspectives, our own history.
Maybe it was a coincidence that the president voiced the exact spirit of my thought. And maybe it was a coincidence that he broadened it, expanded it in a way I hadn’t imagined. Maybe it was a simply coincidence.
Or maybe we were made for this moment.