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Dr. Cara Barker Headshot

You Matter: The Inaugural Challenge For Us All

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When 'Me' Becomes 'We'.
President Barack Obama's inaugural speech ushers in one of the most lively, amazing paradigm shifts in American history. We have gone from a deadening two term experience of 'No, we can't' collective thinking to one of 'Yes, we can,' and now, 'Yes, we did!' The deeper message, however, that is the game changer is one which tells us 'You matter.' President Obama is not telling us to 'go with the program', like the previous administration, but rather, to invest our abilities into reinventing the game alongside him. Our willingness to receive this invitation, and get into action carries the capacity to turn around the mess we are in. At long last, we have a reprieve: another chance of coming back to life. Such a paradigm shift is the stuff from which transformation is crafted. As the saying goes, we are being guided to not just 'play the game, but change the game.' Let us each ask of ourselves the question: "What game have you been playing that is too small? What needs to change in your life?"

8 Years of the Opposite Message
What price do we pay if we are unwilling to answer this Call of our times? Look at the past eight years, for one. Recall the suspicion in the days and months after 9/11? There were consequences for anyone who voiced dissension. Remember when millions were beginning to gather in America, as well as around the world, to protest an impending war? Recall that period when George Bush discounted the marches as simple 'focus groups?' And this was before we awoke to the fact that American torture of prisoners of war was about to be sanctioned secretly to our south.

It was during those days that my husband and I had the audacity to post a sign on our lawn which read "No Iraq War." It seemed a simple enough enactment of our Constitutional rights. The next morning when I went out for the paper, I found a computer typed note, protected within a plastic bag, now attached to our sign. In a font that must have been around 18-20, it read: "Osama Bin Laden, anthrax this family first." So much for free speech. One week later, I noticed a neighbor who posted a similar sign in their yard. Twenty-four hours later, it, too, was gone. When I went to their door to ask what happened, they shared the same story. Now, here is the disturbing part of such an experience. You don't have to be paranoid to begin to wonder 'who done it?' I told my husband that the eerie part was I could begin to get a 'feel for' how people in Nazi Germany felt when lists of names were turned into the SS. They had their lists. We've still got our 'no fly' lists. Intolerance is no stranger to any country. Free speech is not something to ever take for granted.

An Impassioned Orator
During the days which preceded our country's initiation into a new period of the Presidency under Obama's watch, what has become so clear is the power of eloquent speech as an invaluable tool to transformational leadership. In stark contrast with our ex-President, it should not be surprising that there has been a great deal of commentary on his impressive mastery of language. Rightfully so. But his effectiveness to move us in a rather extraordinary way comes not only from the way Barack Obama chooses words, weaving them into a unifying whole. What moves us is his inclusion. He lives in the Land of We, not Me. Having stepped out of a patriarchal period in which, as a people, we were left to feel disenfranchised, angry, abused, invisible, silenced, and embarrassed, what this man, for our times, is telling us 'face to face' is that we count. I count. You count. We matter. He speaks with the tongue of the Divine Feminine. (I did not say effeminate. Nor am I referring to gender, but rather the Principle of Inclusion, feeling, intuition.) It is one thing to say that the audience counts as a speaker, but an entirely different ballgame to affect our experience, to touch us in such a meaningful way that his conviction beckons our own. This is an authentic transfer of power. He has found his natural Voice, and is using it to lead. More than a speaking at us, he brings forward the essence of what is real for him: the authentic Hero's Call. From all heroic stories that have come before, we know that the next step is leaving the village compound, (i.e. our conventional way of thinking) in order to encounter the symbolic dragons and monsters. But, it is also important to remind ourselves that right around the corner from the challengers, come the help-mates. Which are we?

Take-away for You and Me
Such is the hurdle for each of us, here, at home, and around the globe if we are ever to come together as the Family of Humankind, creating sustainable solutions to international and local problems. The situations before us are so vast and complex, that, if we do not begin to digest the importance of our input, we will not have the necessary tenacity to outlast the alchemy of turbulent times ahead. We must not quit on ourselves. To achieve this, we've got to communicate with one another as more than talking heads, trying to convince each other that 'I am right and you are wrong.' Are we willing to walk in each other's shoes as long as necessary? Like Barack, we've got to be willing, in this rite of passage of our own to be more than we've ever dared before. As we 'plunder into the cauldron' into some dark days ahead through the Unknown, together, let us do so with a profoundly deepened sense that what we do and say, and what we fail to do and say, today and tomorrow, really, truly matters. Such a clarion call for action calls for nothing short of a conversion of the heart.

A Special Wish
So to you, Mr. President, I salute what you are modeling. I thank you for reminding us that we can be more, do more, have more through giving more. I am grateful for the summons you direct our way. I appreciate the opening to find and use our own Voice for Greater Good.

To you, my brothers and sisters, I say 'Let's roll." You matter. Let me hear from you as to what matters most as you see it? As the Negro National anthem invites:
Lift every voice and sing.
Till earth and heaven sing
Ring with harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies.
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song, full of the faith that the dark past
Has taught us, sing a song, full of the hope
That the present has brought us; facing the
Rising sun of our new day begun, let us march
On till victory is won.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on
The way; Thou who hast by Thy might,
led us into the light, keep us forever in the path,
We pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God
Where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk
With the wine of the world we forget Thee;
Stand true to our God, true to our native land,
Let us march on till victory is won.

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