There are people, and sometimes I'm one of them, who proclaim loudly and often that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.
Watching Barack Obama inaugurated for the second time belies the notion that everything in America and the world is getting worse.
In fact, there was an obituary in today's "Times" of a guy called James A. Hood, who died on Thursday at the age of 70. (Obama is 52.)
49 years ago, in other words, in President Obama's lifetime, Hood sought to become one of the first blacks to pursue a degree at the University of Alabama.
Alabama Governor George Wallace, who carried five states and received almost 10 million votes when he ran for President in 1968, tried to block Hood's entry into the public university. John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard, and Hood entered the school. The next day,
Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers (whose widow gave the invocation at today's inauguration) was shot to death in Mississippi.
Hood was able to last just a few months before he left the university "to avoid a complete mental and physical breakdown."
This is all recent history.
49 years ago a fellow student sent Hood a dead black cat in the mail.
And now we have an African-American as President.