Immediately upon Barack Obama's election as President, the TV stations shifted the conversation from "Will he be elected?" to "Now that he is elected, what will he do?"
It is as if we are to follow the same, well-worn script from Hope to Honeymoon to Disillusionment.
But, if we do, we miss the point.
Our great honour and privilege at having a man as ethical and sound as Barack Obama at the helm will be squandered if we do not realize that this is our opportunity to make Ethics our leader and Integrity our teacher.
It is not so much what Barack Obama does next that matters, but what WE do next.
Now is the time for all of us to stop the clock and start anew, enshrining ethics and integrity as the measure of our conduct.
The antithesis of this is George Bush's statement that the Constitution is a "god-damned piece of paper." The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, our charters and conventions, and our caselaw – these are all the repositories of our values and principles and it is these that we must once again begin to live by.
I would be entirely satisfied if Barack Obama undertook to remind us for four years of our values and principles and demonstrated by his words and deeds what it means to be ethical and in integrity.
But of course that cannot be. His job is, and must be, more than that. But living that way as the President would be the most important task I would personally ask of him.
The more important task is that WE ensure that our lives are lived ethically and in integrity from this moment on. Some of us have allowed ourselves to be persuaded to live quite another way by a neoconservative cabal who have wreaked terrible havoc on us, other nations, and the planet. We have to disavow this group now and pick up where we left off many years ago, not simply mouthing "freedom" and "democracy" as Georeg Bush has done, while he has destroyed people's lives, but actually living it and plumbing the depths of what those notions mean.
Some have compared Barack Obama to Lincoln; some to Kennedy. He certainly has their ability to articulate principles and live life with vision, determination, and humility.
But I am reminded of Kennedy's words when I think of Obama's presidency: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
The next step is not Obama's. It is ours.