Yesterday’s inauguration speech by Barack Obama was unlike any other I remember. Most of these quadrennial speeches are full of platitudes and most fall far short of expectations. President Obama’s bland speech four years ago was typical--in part because of the deep economic crisis in which the United States and much of the world was embroiled.

But as Obama pledged to do more for climate change, marriage equality, commitment to social welfare programs or economic fairness for woman, yesterday’s speech was a call to action. Not that anything is guaranteed; already the White House was backpedaling when it came to questions about specifics. But the point was that none of the aforementioned issues were briefly mentioned in passing--the president discussed them. And as democracy is a small series of steps, these words matter because they cover challenges that have just not been at the forefront of debate in our nation’s capital. Washington, DC is also notorious for its toxic political atmosphere and lack of civil debate. So are our country and its people ready to take on some of these divisive issues?

It has been a difficult four years for many of us. But the beauty of my amazing country is that we have taken the unwanted from other nations, like my grandparents, who found opportunity and a new life. They could come here and revitalize themselves in an infectious wave of optimism that has kept this nation for over 200 years. Let's work together and keep this nation thriving and welcoming the next four years and for decades after. Surely compromise, which few in Washington seem able to achieve is possible to tackle these mounting problems confronting us.

[Image credit of White House, Feb. 2011: Leon Kaye]

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.