Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gutter: Blue is nonplussed

This is my dog. His name is Blue.

Since I work at home, he pretty much does what I do. If I sit around all day, he sits around all day. If I go to the park, he goes to the park. If I spend all day playing synthesizers…well, Blue can’t do that because his paws are too big for anything more precise than block chords, and while I have a certain appreciation for experimental approaches to music, I tend to prefer something a little more melodic. So when I play a synthesizer at home, Blue usually just lays around and listens.

A similar occurrence takes place when I watch TV. Blue rarely shows interest in the programs and movies I choose to watch, so he just lays there and soaks it in. Such was the case earlier today when I watched the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack H. Obama.

I watched the inauguration, and Blue laid around and listened to it. Occasionally I noticed him glancing up, but for the most part, he was nonplussed.

Overall, I wasn’t really surprised that Blue was nonplussed with the whole thing. He reacted the same way to the speech Obama gave on Election Night in that park in Chicago. Blue’s a young lad - the end of January will be his first birthday - but he’s wise beyond his years.

For Blue, words like “hope” and “progress” and “unity” sure have a nice ring to them, but that ring is hollow. Words like that are empty starters, sparks to ignite some sense of national pride or collective passion that are best served in the campaign process. Or at ceremonial procedures like an inauguration.

Blue heard the call to action:

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America.”

That sure does sound nice, but the words barely registered with Blue this afternoon as they echoed from my TV. I was fairly caught up in the historical significance and intensity of the moment, but as I said before, Blue was nonplussed.

Now, I’ve done my best to educate Blue how significant it is that Obama won the election. But even on that fateful night back in November, after I returned from a friend’s house where celebratory spirits were in full bloom, Blue’s demeanor could best be defined as “nonplussed.”

As is our normal routine, I immediately let Blue out the back door for an evening release after coming back from my friend’s house on Election Night. As I stood in the doorway while Blue relieved the pressure that had built over the previous three or four hours, I reflected on my drive from the friend’s house in Mt. Washington back to my place in Lawrenceville. I thought about how a chorus of car horns punctuated the drive. I thought about how there seemed to be an electricity, a natural energy that enveloped the city.

I thought about these things while Blue performed his evening ritual that night in November. And then, just before he came back in the house, he looked up at me with an expression that seemed to completely encompass the lingering thought in my mind.

With one look, Blue asked the most important question of all:

Now what?

After all the promises and talk of hope and progress and unity and Yes We Can and everything that so captivated Americans over the past two years…

Now what?

After a history-making election that will forever change the face of the American political process…

Now what?

After finally undoing the God-awful administration that held the White House for the past eight years…

Now what?

And so it was on Tuesday afternoon, as I watched the inauguration of our 44th President…

Now what?

Hope, progress, unity, and all of those happy words will mean very little if real solutions, real ideas, and real, tangible effectiveness does not come out of this presidency.

And so Blue asks…

Now what?

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