Courage for the Common Good: Obama's Second Term

By Jim Wallis 01-21-2013
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Barack Obama gives his inauguration address. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I attended the Inauguration Ceremony today. It was thankfully not as cold as last time. But it was one of President Barack Obama's best speeches — strong, clear, even tough, in a good way. My favorite line was: "… history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.

In other words, God has made those principles always presented at inaugurals "self-evident" or ordained; but human beings must implement them. The president is saying that it is up to us to do that in our time. He elaborated. He was specific. 

He said it is up to us to address senseless gun violence, saying that our journey forward "… is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."

He named his priorities — protecting vulnerable people in the budget fights, stopping climate change, reforming our immigration laws. Evangelical Christians and other people of faith share these priorities; it is up to us to act on them. Washington needs to heed the president's call to put the partisan gridlock aside and again focus on the common good.

President Obama seemed more confident about action than ever before, and perhaps this is indicative of what we can expect for his second term. We need courage now.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. His forthcoming book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good, is set to release in April. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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