If my email inbox and my voicemail are any microcosmic indication, the United States of America has just begun a new era. "A new world" were the words that echoed this past week. I agree. It is a new world, but only if we make it so.
Frank Rich ended his wonderful morning-after piece in Sunday's New York Times:
"What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That's not who we are."
Who are we now? I really want to know. What I see is a nation in a mode of huge potential. Potential's good. What we need now is to take that zeitgeist of optimism, hope, and we-can-make-a-difference and make choices that create actions to actually make that difference.
Rich goes on:
"So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. 'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country."
We are indeed the ones we've been waiting for. We've been those ones all along -- even in the days of the Bush-Cheney-Rove tyranny. Obama, bless him, reminded us of who we are. Now, can we remember long enough to do something?
A Reuters headline on my home page read: "Obama, with election over, U. S. must work together."
In that same article, president-elect Obama spoke some deep truths. "I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead," said Obama. "We've taken some major actions to date, and we will need further actions during this transition and subsequent months," he said. "Some of those choices will be difficult, but America is a strong and resilient country. I know that we will succeed if we put aside partisanship and work together as one nation. And that is what I intend to do."
We have to work together. Each of us. All of us. No exceptions. The only way to remake our world is to take the actions that create change. We believed in the potential of that change during the presidential election cycle. Now can we believe in our own power to effect change by making a commitment to it?
There are myriad issues that face our nation: the economy, climate change, health care, veterans' needs, education, peace.
Here is my challenge to America, no, to each American: pick one. That's it. Pick one issue that you care about, and make it a part of your life. Better, make learning about it, talking about it, educating others about it, and taking action about it a priority.
Obama's right: ". . . we will succeed if we put aside partisanship and work together as one nation." Surely election success channeled into the issues can create national success through continued commitment to change.
So yes, we can. We know because yes, we did. Now it's time for yes, we will.
Follow Dr. Susan Corso on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PeaceCorso