It is difficult to put into words the feelings of the last few days, the sense of genuine pride, of relief, of hope, of new possibility; the sense of gravity for the seriousness of the situation we now face, the very weight of responsibility that comes with an accomplishment like this.
From the moment I saw the President-elect walk onto the stage in Grant Park on Tuesday night, I knew he was changed. The full weight of the Office was squarely on his shoulders, and he bore it well.
As I listened to him speak, I was filled with a solemn sense of elation; joy in the moment, earnest in the face of the enormity of the task. Obama captured this sense of solemn elation when he said:
What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.
The passage resonates with almost every speech Obama has given through the campaign; it invites us to participate in something larger than ourselves, and it uses “this day, this election…this defining moment” to turn our attention toward new possibilities, to a future not measured by days or months, but by centuries. It seized the moment as the opportunity to ask us to to imagine what we want to be and how we want it to be for our children.
From the start, Obama has had a sense for what the Greeks called the kairos, the right moment. It is a term that means also due measure, proper proportion, fitness; the proper time for planting, the season when growth is best cultivated. This most ancient of words not only designates the sense of timing with which the Obama campaign has operated, but it also beautifully articulates the very manner of its operation: balanced, steady, measured.
And now, they have turned from campaigning to governing with a swiftness that is to be admired. Without a break, the Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, has been established and a new website launched: change.gov.
One senses that this is just the beginning and that we will be asked to be an important part of what is to come.