Sympathy for our former president

Sympathy for our former president

Photo by Chase Snyder

Photo by Chase Snyder

This season of change in U.S. politics has inspired many in our generation to believe and hope in a system we have grown cynical about.

Most of the folks my age – especially here at Goshen College – would identify much more strongly with our new President, Barack Obama, than with our now former President, George W. Bush. Bush’s final press conference, however, felt strangely familiar to me.

I started as a freshman living on Miller 1 a couple months before the 2004 election gave then-President Bush another four years in office. Now, Bush is moving on to the next phase of his life a few months before I graduate and do the same.

Like Bush, I will soon be leaving a chapter in my life that seems like the most important and memorable one so far, and I have been thinking about my own legacy at Goshen College.

Like Bush, I worry that I will not be remembered as the person I really am, and that some of my past attitudes, choices and mistakes will shape my legacy more than my talents and achievements.

While I haven’t had to deal with terrorist attacks and formulate a response, I have been attacked by periods of severe depression and academic dysfunction. I haven’t started any wars, but I have made some really dumb mistakes, including some that alienated me from people with whom I could have been friends.

But as America looks to a new leader to help us through the challenges ahead, I am also looking forward to the life I will build after college.

Watching the inauguration of our first black president was even more inspiring than I could have expected. His readiness to tackle the nation’s problems and draw people together gives me a confidence in the future both for myself and for the whole country.

I will miss Goshen College, but this time of transition is also a huge opportunity to leave behind attitudes and choices that have held me back and created problems in the past. Like President Obama, I will have to work hard to disrupt destructive patterns, and I will have to rely on others for support.

Luckily, I have assembled a wonderful “cabinet” of friends to take me into the next four years. With their help and with my own determination, I am excited to build my life in what feels like the start of things getting better, a season of change.

Nathan Graber is a senior history major from Elkhart, Ind.

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