Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change Has Begun

History has been made yesterday when the 44th President of United States Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into office. A bi-racial 47 years old son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother, who grew up in Hawaii that became a state only two years before he was born. A Columbia graduate and Harvard educated attorney who chose community service over a corporate legal career. An aspired and inspiring politician who was unknown on the national stage until when he delivered the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. 4+ years later, when nearly 2 million people (that is about 1 of every 150 Americans) gathered in Washington D.C. in freezing cold for his inauguration with joy, excitement, and tears in their eyes, one can’t help but touched deeply by the emotion and the energy he has generated.

Everyone knows by now this journey started a little over two years ago and his message to American people has been simple and consistent that can be summed up in one single word - CHANGE. It captures the yawning and imagination of people who have long realized something is not right in this country but do not know where to go, whom to turn to and what to do.

His opponents and detractors ridiculed his youth, inexperience and audacity, betting fear will tramp over hope, division will split unity, and ideology will obscure judgment. Pundits and analysts of all shades, responding to daily happenings, amplified and simplified from every angle selectively, dropped on labels from left to right, provided their reads in predictable sound bites, and offered sometimes, advice in a vacuum.

As he won the election and began to build his team, some started to second guess and concerned that some of his cabinet nominations, guilty of their shinning track records and previous associations, do not reflect the change they expected.

This begs the question and everyone is asking what exactly is the CHANGE President Obama has been talking about? The answer is pretty straightforward, in my opinion, but interestingly the specifics are different for different individuals in different roles. That is why the CHANGE message connects easily with most people but at the same time seems so elusive.

As the president who leads the most powerful nation on earth, Barack Obama has articulated it well at the first moment of his presidency; he cannot make it more clear to the nation and the world than what he had spelled out in his 18 minutes inaugural speech. For the rest, each of us will find our own specific answers if we just recognize that change begins with a “can do” attitude that challenges status-quos and out-dated ideas. When each of us opts to take up more responsibility and make a difference, we will collectively travel a different path where endless possibilities and opportunities await us.

Never before in US history, there is so much optimism and expectation of a new president with so many crises and challenges from domestic to international and from economy to war. President Obama has stood up to lead the charge and outlined the new direction and principles in remaking America. It is time for everyone to respond and grab this unique opportunity and act responsibly, big or small. Only then, meaningful and fundamental changes will be realized.

Talk to you soon!

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