So it was a good weekend.
Friday night, I celebrated the summer travels of a good friend from the PSU Outdoor program, who I just recently climbed Mount Hood with. We gathered in a large group to play guitars and other various instruments, and to laugh and drink sangria.
Saturday morning I went to the Pearl Bakery for a apricot pastry and a coffee.
Saturday afternoon, I watched my roommate walk through his graduation ceremony. A masters in Physics. Whew.
It was sad in a way, because Lars' work toward this degree is what brought him to Portland, what gave us the opportunity to live together in the same apartment, what eventually brought his girlfriend Anne to live with us, and in essence, what holds him here in Portland.
Chances are, he'll be on his way back to Germany soon, and Anne with him.
But good friends can live all over the world. And in the end, as much as Lars and Anne love Portland, I believe they need to go home.
The speaker at his commencement was illustrious: William Clinton.
President William Clinton.
And after his speech, I have this to say: he is good at what he does. Feelings welled up, certainly.
Regardless of the quality, or lack thereof, of presidents past, I have to give this to Clinton: he moved me like none of them could. Not Reagan, and certainly not Bush.
I'm not suggesting that I believe Clinton is a great president (though I do believe he is a good president, and I don't want to fight about it now).
I'm just saying that I believed what he had to say, and more, that I believed it was honestly important to him. I really felt like he was concerned about the future of the United States of America. This was not expressed in any extraordinarily patriotic way except that he glowed with a pride in what we could be.
And there was a sense all along that we all need to take part in the future of our land.
And frankly, I'm a little frustrated that I cannot express that I felt good about the speech, and good about my president, without feeling a bit concerned about what the rest of you think.
I'm not talking about a deep concern. I'm not driven to avoid saying things I believe in or to bend my beliefs so others will like me.
This concern about what you all think is a little more subtle than that. It's a cultural drive to express tremendous apathy about government, to distrust our public leaders, to believe there is nothing good left for us.
In some ways, I buy that. Certainly, our public leaders have given us reason to distrust them. Without question, American culture and American life has changed and continues to change from the time our parents were our age.
But the apathy sucks. Period.
And I'm not giving in to it, if I can help it. I feel driven to work hard at making my country a place where I can live at peace with my neighbors, where I can feel proud of my freedom, where I can work hard at those things without the government rolling tanks into Pioneer Courthouse Square and opening fire.
And my hope is this: that we will all do our small part, slowly and with intention, and that once in a while, we will be proud--with every good reason--of our work.