January 2009
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Billie Silvey
A New Era
The young girl was rescued by Joseph Schindler and taken to his
factory.  Her feared captor was executed by the Nazis for
appropriating money taken from the Jews that was supposed to be
sent to Berlin.  The documentary incorporated the original film of his
hanging--three times before his neck finally broke and he was dead.  
His wife eventually poisoned herself, leaving their orphaned daughter
to face the horror of what her parents had done.

The young Jewish girl had married a fellow survivor of the Holocaust,
but he, too, eventually killed himself as well.  The legacy of hatred, of
seeing people as “other,� as somehow less, had damaged both
the Jewish and the German woman.  Both had a lot of healing to do.

The legacy of slavery has done the same to our nation.  We, too,
need to heal from the wounds of hatred, of seeing people as â
€œother,â€� as somehow less.  It has damaged all of us, and it has
damaged our nation.
This month we will inaugurate
a new president.  In a sense,
it’s a natural thing.  Weâ
€™ve already inaugurated 42
(Grover Cleveland served
twice), and each one has had
an impact on who we are as a
people.  However, this
president, the first African-
American to serve as
president, marks the
beginning of a new era for all
of us.
When I was a child on the flat West Texas plains, you could see so
many stars.  I would lie on my back in the front yard and look up to
the heavens and think about my unfolding life.  All that sky somehow
seemed to release my spirit to soar beyond my small-town
surroundings.  I felt boundless.  Anything was possible.  I determined
to reach for the stars.  I might not make it, but I would have gone as
far as I could.

This inauguration is significant for African-Americans because it means
that they, too, can aspire to anything. Their children can reach for the
stars.  It was touching, watching Obama’s victory speech in
Chicago, to see the tear-stained faces of veterans of the Civil Rights
struggle.  These descendants of slaves had gone from marching and
suffering to gain basic rights as citizens of this country to watching one
of their own becoming the leader of the land.  What indescribable joy!
It can mean a lot for the rest of us as
well.

I woke up on the couch one night
just before Christmas to a televised
documentary about a young Jewish
girl who had lived in the house of the
captain of one of the Nazi camps.  
She had returned to the site of the
camp, now a memorial, with the
German daughter of her captor.  It
was at once a victorious and a very
sad story.
Perhaps this inauguration can allow us
finally to see all our people as equal and
valuable.  Perhaps it can help us
understand how far we’ve come, and
how far we still need to go to reach total
honesty, equality, and love.

The theme of Obama’s candidacy was
Hope.  Hope is what this inauguration can
mean for all of us as well.

• Hope that we can live in peace—with
our neighbors in this country and around
the world--after too many years of war.

• Hope that we can distinguish between
our needs and our desires, reaslizing that,
while
one can be satisfied, the other is a void that can never be filled.

• Hope that we can rescue our planet from the ravages of too
many years of untrammeled greed and selfishness without thought
of the future.

• Hope that our government can truly be of, for and by the
people, and not just some power elite.

Let’s all pray for our nation and its new president, for
wisdom, strength and safety.  And let’s roll up our sleeves and
pitch in, helping to realize the hope his inauguration represents.  
Let’s relearn the lessons of peace within ourselves and with
those around us, whoever they may be.  Let’s relearn self-
sacrifice, doing without so much so others may have more.  And
let’s learn stewardship, taking care of our environment, the
only one we’ll have in this life.
Katyana's Firsts
In the Beginning