Eight years ago our President spoke of shock and awe. Now we stumble in shock and dismay through an ever-weakening economy. We have moved from having the largest surplus in American history to the largest shortfall in American history. We have seen our growing economy shrink in stagnation. As jobs have left our shores, we have become the country from which Emma Lazarus imagined us emigrating. We are rapidly becoming “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore… the homeless, tempest-tost (sic).” No longer are we the shining beacon, we are becoming the shadowy bastion of corporate self-interest.

In these dour days, there is a hint of hope. We might call him the great white hope, except that he is black. And more amazing than the fact that he won, or maybe part of the fact that he won is that we are finally getting it. What is the ‘it’ that we are getting? That ‘it’ does not matter! In a time of fiscal free-fall, we are unfettered of our intolerance. In a race to remain a viable power, race is not an issue. In a time of economic despair, ecological dismay and executive distrust, our country looks to a different paradigm of promise.

Hope is a seed. It is not the end but rather the beginning. For the first time, in a long time, hope blossoms. In this country that has become a parched plane of broken promises and broken dreams, the blossom of hope appears. In this country where fear has become a force of nature, the bud of hope is being nurtured. But if hope is not watered with its compliment, action, then hope dies on the vine.

We need action! But the action that we need is not the action of the movie cowboy. It is not the shoot-from-the-hip, knee-jerk reaction to stress and strain. We must always remember that no matter what the result, the perpetrator of a knee-jerk reaction is, by definition, a jerk. Action must be planned and purposeful. Our action should be well-informed and well-advised, in contrast to the ill-informed and ill-advised actions of the past eight years.

Soon, Barak Hussein Obama will take office. Mr. Obama is an intelligent and inquisitive, man. He is conscientious and he is conscious. He is not a caricature of mediocrity. Nor should he be. When my plumbing backs up, I want the best plumber, not the average Joe. When my country is backed up, I do not want an ordinary person as president. I want someone extraordinary. I pray, Mr. President, that you are he.