Freedom: reflection on the presidential inauguration

On January 20, 2009, here in the United States of America, will be the inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Obama. As I sit here in Eugene, OR on the day that we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., I wait with anticipation for what definitely will be an inspiring speech by Obama who has come to be known by his eloquence and oratory excellence. Whether you voted for him or not, it would be hard to deny that there is a palpable sense of energy and enthusiasm all over this country as people wait to see what I imagine will be the most watched event in the history of this country and perhaps the world. While it is obvious that the significance of him being the first African American president (born to a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas) is a major reason for the worldwide interest in this event, something that seems even more important relates to the word, " freedom."

Reflecting on this moment, the words of MLK echo in my mind, " free at last, free at last. " The history of African Americans is intimately tied to the institution of slavery and its oppression of a human being based on the color of their skin. There is no doubt that Barack Obama's inauguration has a special meaning to African Americans who now have someone they can look to as a representation of freedom that holds the highest office in the United States. He is the living embodiment of a dream that began in 1964 with MLK which they have fought long and hard to obtain. Without taking away from the importance of this historical event for African Americans, I see this president as representing the possibility of freedom for all peoples throughout the world.

Who among us isn't effected in some way by a lack of freedom? Whether it is physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, economic etc. it appears that each of us no matter where we live on the earth seems bound by limitations that prevent the experience of true and lasting freedom. I observe my own life and see that one of the ways I am still imprisoned is by the negative critical thoughts and conditionings that limit who I think I am and what I am capable of doing in the world. Clients that come and see me for counseling tell stories of being oppressed by domestic violence and different types of trauma/abuse. Right now as these words are written, there are people inthe Middle East, whether Palestinian or Israeli who are imprisoned by the fear of being attacked by " the other " who's ideologies appear to be different. Innocent women and children are dying due to what appears to be the mindset of an " us vs. them " mentality happening in that corner of the world. Everywhere else where fears dominate and prevent those who are oppressed from being liberated represent the denial of freedom.

While I realize that these words about freedom are just a tiny reflection on a topic that can be viewed from many different perspectives, it seems relevant to bring it up now. Coming back to the inauguration, Obama has touched the hearts and souls of so many who see in him a symbol of change represented by the power of three words,
" Yes We Can. " These are the words that lift one out of despair and instill hope in the possibility of a new world based on cooperation, harmony, compassion, love, peace, justice and equality for all peoples.

Still, each of us will have to walk the path to freedom by awakening and realizing our essential nature at the very core of our being. We have to do the work necessary to free ourselves from whatever limits and prevents us from fulfilling our divine creative potential. This event is simply a finger pointing to the times that we find ourselves in as the collective consciousness of humanity continues to evolve. Ultimately, it is a shift in consciousness and an increasing awareness of our interconnectedness " what effects one, effects all," " one person's healing helps to heal the world," that will end our suffering and lead us to freedom.

There are many issues that we will continue to face both, individually and collectively, and he isn't going to magically bring about this " new world " that so many of us dream about and imagine. Yet, Barack Obama becoming president is a statement that a shift is happening and something new is being born in this world.

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