After yesterday’s grand celebrations in Washington, and us watching on TV with much of the rest of the world, the ice and the sea were still there this cold morning. The frigid air knew nothing of rarefied oratory or high expectations, of the helicopter that had spun a departing president into the sky, and the ice had not heard of the new one – the president of the world, no less – who magically came into power at precisely noon while listening thoughtfully to Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Mah’s divine music. The ice floating on the sea, like the air suspended above it, just was.
But if a butterfly flapping its wings can alter events far away in space and time, perhaps this ice is not exactly the same as it would have been had yesterday been less auspicious. And if we cannot observe things without changing them on some microscopic level, then because I am thinking these thoughts, the morning has been made different just by my presence, by the same mechanism that Barack Obama’s inauguration has changed the world.
I am reminded of a woman I met in a Nigerian market who spoke of how much better life had been under the brief regime of a certain president a few years before. She said that in those days, “I would go home from the market and make better soup.” Seasoned with a dash of optimism and happiness, the flavour of ordinary, mundane ingredients can actually be improved.
Lastly, I recall reading some time ago how the culture of government in the US had spawned a sort of anti-intellectualism: it wasn’t cool to be smart. Is that like the old custom of not standing higher than the king? Let’s not be smarter than the president? How disastrous for a nation! I predict a change in that regard, folks. So don’t hide your light under a bushel. This world needs all the smarts it can get.