A multitude of feelings swamped my body over the past few weeks. Sitting with them and deciphering them has taken time. I’ve avoided writing about the events of our nation as I was unsure what words will spill onto the page. Everyone is exhausted from the constant media cycle. Each outlet spins the truth to embrace the beliefs of their particular audience to assure their dollars. It’s about the money,
Fear. Watching the footage unfold of a mob of angry, righteous extremist storm the center of democracy does not need any interpretation from the media, a pundit, an expert. I only have to listen to the words of the former president and read his social media feeds to know it was wrong and an attack on the values America holds true. I am afraid for the safety of our leaders, of the journalists, of the Capitol staff, of the bystanders. I don’t need the media to tell me this is a dangerous situation. Is our nation on the brink of another Civil War? What will happen at the inauguration? How did this happen? Why are senators and congressmen and women still insisting the election was stolen? Can’t they see who the real thief is? These questions and more rolled through my mind in the weeks leading up to inauguration day.
Despair. The United States of America seems to be a laughable name for our nation. A chasm of division, we are as far from united as I can remember. 74 million people voted for former President Trump and 48% of them believe the election was rigged. Yet their is no evidence of anything but a fair and legitimate election. The votes were counted and recounted. Claims of fraudulence were taken through our court system all the way to the Supreme Court and thrown out as baseless. Our system of checks and balances worked. The peaceful transfer of power happened. But what of those who believed the lies? Still believe they’ve been cheated? I’ve tried to imagine what they might be feeling. I’ve tried to consider what lead them to support this man unconditionally. I remember that their truth feels as real as mine. As I drive through my community, the Trump flags still wave. I try not to judge (and often fail). Do they feel robbed and left behind? Do they realize they are on the wrong side of history? Are they filled with hate and rage? Are fearful of what the new presidency will bring, just as I was four years ago? Is there anyway to reach across the divide? Are they even willing to try?
Hope. Listening to Amanda Gorman recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration my despair is replaced with hope. I’ve replayed it and read it multiple times, each time I’m inspired. I feel encouraged to be braver. I am hopeful that unity is attainable. However, unity doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean giving people a pass. We can’t truly heal without accountability, justice and then forgiveness. We must learn from our past so that we can do better in the future. Last Sunday at virtual church, they replayed our youth choir signing from 2016. I am transported back in time as my then eight-year old daughter, belts out “This Little Light of Mine.” Yes! I’m filled with the hopefulness of our children, our future. Let your lights shine. Let it shine brightly. We desperately need your light! Can we reach across the divide? Does kindness and love conquer selfishness and hate? Will we ever see each other as fully human? Will we land in the knowledge that we are more a like than different? Will we ever truly be the United States of America? I don’t know, but I am hopeful. And I am brave. I am a light.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be itAmanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb
Do you think unity is possible?