It is Inauguration Day here in Washington DC . The kids are home from school, the bridges have been blocked going into the city, crowds have filled up hotels as far south as Williamsburg more than two hours away, and, of course, across the nation we will all be glued to our television sets to participate in this historic event as the first black man is sworn in as president with the promise that race will not be a barrier to high office or to any achievement in the future.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be on hand for the swearing-in ceremonies today and for the National Prayer Service at Washington ‘s National Cathedral on January 21.
“It is always an honor for the Church to be represented at the inauguration of a new president,” said President Monson. “We send our best wishes to President-elect Obama and pray for the blessings of a loving Father in Heaven to be upon him and his administration.”
That is sound counsel. This is one of the most daunting times for anyone to become the President as the nation is in economic turmoil and the market continues to plummet. Terrorists seek our demise and Americans are divided with rancor and name calling between parties, ideas and philosophies. We will pray for President Obama to have enlightenment, insight and judgment from heaven as he tackles issues that will ultimately determine the destiny of this nation. He will need it.
We hope that he will have inspiration and guidance in solving these knottiest of problems, that the change he calls for will not veer us from America ‘s founding ideals.
We appreciate what he said at the 2004 Democratic convention, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America . There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America .”
Whether we voted for him or not, Barack Obama is now our President. We tire of the mean-spiritedness that has been dividing our nation for too long, and hope that his call for a united people, which is what ever new President hopes for, will be fulfilled.
Most of us are just Moms and Dads who hope that our children will grow up in a country based on the principles we enjoyed. We are Americans who want to continue to enjoy the blessings our founders bequeathed to us.
While he was volunteering at a teenage crisis center yesterday, he said, “don’t underestimate the power of people who join together to accomplish amazing things.
“When all of our people are engaged and involved in making their community better, then we can do anything.”
He said this is not a time for “idle hands.” Nor is it a time to stand back and cynically watch the nation falter.
“Everybody’s going to have to pitch in,” he said, adding that Americans are “ready to do that.”
On Sunday, The Washington Times ran an article co-written by Mark DeMoss, and Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, called “Civility Makes Strange Bedfellows” in which they call for a new civility in our public life.
They said, “Ours is a most unlikely friendship. In fact, conventional wisdom would not have us speaking to each other, let alone being friends. One of us is a Republican; a political conservative was a staunch supporter of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the primaries, and an evangelical Southern Baptist. The other is a Democrat, a political liberal who worked for President Bill Clinton and was an ardent supporter of Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton during the recent presidential primaries, and is of the Jewish faith. The first opposes the right to an abortion and believes in the right to life. The second supports the right to choose and think the abortion decision should be a private one between a woman and her physician.”
In fact, they say they would have never met had not the conservative written the liberal to thank him for his courteous treatment of those with whom he disagreed on several television appearances representing Senator Clinton.
Six months later they found themselves meeting for lunch in Washington DC “an increasingly uncivil town” to discuss the Civility Project ( www.civilityproject.org ). As dissimilar as our religious and political beliefs and opinions are, we found ourselves drawn to each other’s love for this country and a conviction about the importance to its future of trying to change the polarizing, attack-oriented political culture that has become all too common in recent years and, instead, to bring civility back as the staple of American politics and life.
“In addition to our desire to promote a more civil society, we also share disgust for the incivility we see every day in this country, on the radio and TV, and around the world. For example, while one of us opposed Proposition 8 in California , which legally defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the other would have supported it.
“However we both condemn the vandalism by some who opposed the proposition directed at those such as the Mormon Church members who supported the measure. We also oppose the often blind hatred, violence and discrimination against gay people by certain individuals, who claim they act in the name of religious beliefs while violating other religious tenets.”
In launching this project, they call on people from all walks of lives and all religious and political persuasions to “graciousness, kindness, common decency and respect-civility-toward all people, and particularly those with whom we disagree.”
They are asking for everyone to embrace three simple commitments: 1) I will be civil in public discourse and behavior; 2) I will be respectful of others, whether or not I agree with them; and 3) I will stand up and call out incivility whenever I see it.
They say, however, that this does not mean, that people should surrender personal beliefs, convictions or ideology, nor to overlook the real differences between us. It does not mean that we do not stand up for important ideas, in fact, pitching in to recover America means that we must.
We must stand civilly and ardently for our convictions if we want to have the America we all hope for.
We have our list of hopes and dreams for President Obama.
We hope that he will take seriously his pledge to honor the Constitution and not be tempted to look at is as an elastic document that changes to mean whatever is currently in philosophic fashion.
We hope that he will be able to lead the way to an economic recovery that does not create a larger government, but motivates and fires the competence and vision of individual Americans, incentivizes business, and maintains our capitalist system.
We hope that though he has promised special interest groups to roll back abortion restrictions with the Freedom of Choice Act, that he will respect the life of the unborn.
We hope that he will foster a culture of intact families where children have the best possible chance to grow up with their own mother and father.
We look to him to instruct his Justice Department to make the prosecution of Internet obscenity a top priority, as it has not been through the past two administrations.
We hope that he will respect parents’ rights to direct the upbringing of their children.
We look to him to uphold the free exercise clause of the Constitution and not approve laws which put people or churches in the position of violating their conscience or restricting religious freedom.