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Rev. Jim Ball Headshot

Inaugural Address Fit for a King: We Shall Overcome Global Warming

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Today my wife and I had the privilege to be on The Mall to watch (on a Jumbotron, for sure) the second inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States.

The peaceful transferal of power or the start of a second term remains one of the most remarkable moments in the history of democracy. Only by the consent of the governed was President Obama able to resume his place of power.

That this inaugural is for the second term of the nation's first African American President, which this year happens also to take place on Martin Luther King Day, makes it especially meaningful. As someone whose family's hometown in Mississippi was a flashpoint in the civil rights struggle, this day gives me great pride in our country to see how far we've come.

It is this spirit, this capacity for positive change, which gives me hope we can help lead the world to address the major challenges of our time. And the greatest moral challenge the human family faces is overcoming global warming -- the next great cause of freedom.

In his second inaugural address the president's two major themes were freedom and equality, which he struck at the very beginning:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

For our country it is our values of freedom and fairness and our belief in the promise of our future that binds us together and compels us to make the world a better place, to find purpose in tackling the great challenges of our time like climate change.

Watching the inaugural parade -- one of our great festivals of freedom -- my hope in the promise of America was once again renewed. It showed that our diversity is our strength, that unity of purpose can bind us together in a cause greater than ourselves. We have overcome; we shall overcome.

The president's address centered on one of our greatest beliefs as a nation -- equality -- which continues to inspire us for the challenges of our time. Precisely because all are made in the image of God and are therefore created equal, must we join together to fight the tyranny of global warming, which seeks to steal life and liberty and thwart the pursuit of happiness.

As he made abundantly clear, the president understands this. It was an absolutely wonderful surprise to listen on The Mall to the president make such a firm commitment to overcome global warming. Indeed, a New York Times news article stated that the president "made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his Second Inaugural Address." Here are his words:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries -- we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

The president understands that for us freedom and fairness and our belief in the promise of the future, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are all intertwined in the great moral cause of our time: overcoming global warming.

May God bless President Barack Hussein Obama, and may He bless the United States of America as we fulfill the promise of what He has entrusted to us by helping to lead the world in overcoming global warming.