An Alternative Inaugural Address - 'Maybe It's The Time of Man”

By Michael Monasky | January 21, 2013 | Critics fear that President Obama's second inauguration speech will fail to inspire us....

By Michael Monasky | January 21, 2013 |

Critics fear that President Obama's second inauguration speech will fail to inspire us. Here is my attempt to avert that failure with a substitute message, albeit brief: my own inaugural address.

Forty-four years ago Joni Mitchell penned “we are billion year old carbon”, and that “we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.” It was the anthem of Woodstock. More than a music festival, it was a manifesto of the World War II baby-boom generation that “dreamed” it “saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky...turning into butterflies above our nation.”

Although the cold January mornings correlate with poor employment prospects for tens of millions of Americans, it's not just the time of year. It is a time of man. It is a time of sage elders and  frailty. It is a time of women and celebration of child-rearing shadow-work. It is a time of care-free, curious children. It is a time of people of color, intense poverty, accumulated disadvantage, inheritance of debt. It is a time of billionaires, corporate personhood, and concentration of wealth. It is a time of severe austerity. It is the time of man described by percentages: one, forty-seven, and ninety-nine.

The temporal tide ebbs and flows with the life and death of each generation. Though there is little of either, time yields hope, the political password of the last two elections. The work ethic, an unchallenged moral, drives folks to get by and try to have some happiness.

What is the American dream? Is it moral? Is it hopeful? Does it lead to happiness? Is it worth fighting for? How do we belong and what unites us? How are we any different from any people in any other part of the world?

Suburban sprawl dictates our distances, our alienation between each other, our work, and ourselves. Forefathers declared independence founded upon inalienable rights easily undone by the persistent entropy of political economy. There is no right to food, clothing, shelter, clean air, water, education, health care's a dog-eat-dog world out there and in the states of America, united or not.

As our investments have proven, the world is a dangerous place. The US has military installations in every country it recognizes. The recent violence in Mali and Algeria highlights our nation's interests in oil and gas reserves in that region, which have ensnared France and Britain.

US Postal Service-sponsored bicyclist/athlete Lance Armstrong recently admitted to Oprah Winfrey, “This story was so perfect for so long.” Executives from Enron, AIG, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, and Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff made the same claim.

Global climate change trumps these human iniquities. High tides and rising shorelines afflict low-lying lands in the seven seas. Acidification of sea water by carbon dioxide discharge from man-made emissions erodes the living coral in the planet's barrier reefs.

This is a time of man. Man must sing to the song scored by his biology. Man is the only iterative  animal and must think out his thoughts. Eleanor Roosevelt presided over the 1948 drafting of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights that has spawned many councils arguing for and struggling to elevate human dignity. Mankind ignores women’s wisdom at its own peril.

Inauguration Day, 2013, coincides with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. African American infant mortality rates are twice those of the rest of the population. African American kids in Chicago suffer a 50% high school graduation failure rate. A sniper assassinated King 43 years ago in Memphis, 1968. But people still dreamed, hoped, and worked towards fulfillment of the promises in protecting human rights.

This is a time for an unfolding and expansion of human potential, of humane treatment of all human beings. Dreaming, imagining, hoping, working, and caring for Mother Nature and respect for each other are our tasks, to be responsible for promoting human rights in this time of man.

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