We were at the brink. We were staring into the abyss. Our fragile democracy seemed to be on the verge of shattering. The breach in our two hundred and forty-five year old experiment in governing appeared ruptured beyond rationality. Reason seemed to have dissolved. Disapproval had desended into violent dissention
Then we saw. Our democracy was not brittle. It was pounded and pummeled, bent and bruised, but it was not broken. It has proven to be resilient. So far. Our unique republic has survived. So far. As Tom Hanks said in an inaugural-night television special, Celebrating America, many of us now ponder “the hope and dreams, we all share, for a more perfect union.”
We may all share that hope and those dreams, but we are far, far from any consensus about how to realize the aspirations of unity. One man’s dream can be, and is, another man’s nightmare. Millions of Americans still believe the election was a sham; they believe the new president is a false president. Changing their minds seems unlikely. Perhaps the most that can be achieved is to convince those angry Americans…nearly half the voting country…to simply accept what a little more than the other half democratically decided.
That will be a monumental task. While much has been gained…freedom, independence…with our democratic experiment, over the years much has been lost. Too many have lost trust and faith in government. Too many feel they have been abused, ignored and, perhaps worse, disrepected, far too long by our leaders. The recent explosion of emotions we witnessed was not an instanteous event. It had been building for years, spanning the terms of several presidents.
This, by no means, is an excuse for the obscene attack on the US capitol. It is acknowledgement that achieveing a more perfect union will take a massive effort by everyone, not just those we send to our capitals to do the job. It will take perverance, patience, a willingness to listen, rational thinking, careful consideration. It will also take courage. Much courage.
The young and brilliant National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, set the precise tone in her thrilling read at the inaugural ceremony, concluding with:
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