Richard Blanco, the cuban-American and openly gay poet was chosen to read his inaugural poem for President Obama's swearing in ceremony as the world watched. He spoke later with Anderson Cooper about his amazement and pride at being selected to take part in this august ceremony and his thrill at hearing President Obama speak of the need for our Nation to extend to gay and lesbian Americans the same rights the rest of us enjoy.
He talked of the American conversation, about America "still negotiating its own story." I like that phrase, seeing how true it is of all of us. Each of us lives a life negotiating our own narrative, weaving a life that will become the story that lives beyond us, our legacy for the generations that follow.
I was struck, in watching President Obama address the world with his powerful inaugural speech, by how much he has changed in four years. He has matured, grown into his presidency before the eyes of the world. And we know the world is a different place than it was just four years ago. Technologies have been developed that didn't exist then; wars are coming to an end while others seem to be just beginning. In four years, it is as if he has moved from the generation of a young inexperienced president to an older, experienced, sobered global leader.
In the Inner Circle that I facilitated last week in Hong Kong, we spoke of Generation Y and its impact on the world of work. Peter Herford was with us. Peter is a highly respected globe-trotting journalist for many years who went on to be a senior producer at CBS, then lead the Columbia School of Journalism and now the school of journalism at the International Media Institute of Shantou University in Mainland China and he had made many thoughtful observations. One that I'm still thinking about is that the freshman class coming into his university is profoundly different from the senior class. "The fact is," Peter said, "they are another generation." He said that their view and use of technology and their world view is sufficiently different from people four years their senior, he has become convinced that the term of a generation is no longer a decade or longer; it is now four years.
People around the Inner Circle table nodded their heads and said that yes, four years seems about right.
So we should not be surprised that President Obama looks like a different man than he was four years ago. It was, after all, a generation ago.
In truth, we're not getting "four more years" as some in the crowd shouted. We're getting four new years. In these next four years, we'll be making history together as America continues to negotiate its own story.