Isn’t it crazy? An ordinary day, with relatively ordinary people showing each other signs of respect and humility, acting with diplomacy and integrity, being polite, demonstrating their love for each other and country, is suddenly an extraordinary event.
Like some prodigal child, the country has come home to open arms, and is welcome with a feast, for what was once lost is now found, what once seemed gone forever has come home again.
It is inauguration day, and a gentleman, a fighter, someone not ashamed to show emotion, proud of his faith, his country, his service to this country, is at the helm, and at his side is a woman of color whose intelligence is surpassed only by her fierce determination, and her devotion to country is equaled by her devotion to her family.
The former leadership showed no signs of love, none of integrity and certainly no signs of humility. The irony, of course, is had he shown even a small amount, he just might have won reelection. But it simply isn’t in him. When I saw the pictures today of Vice President Harris’ kids grabbing her arms, and them all laughing, it reminded me of the beautiful photos of the Obamas, and of President Biden’s brutal loss of his son, today his other at his side. These images—truly universal images of the elemental in all our lives, family—are absent from the past four years, and for all of the debates over policy and bullish attitudes, it just might be that love and grace, humbleness and a sense of sacrifice, is what we want in our leadership.
I’m not depressed today. It’s not medicine or the sunny, clear blue skies, or starting classes again or moving along well on a new project. No. It’s that today is an ordinary day, finally. The news is positive, words like “hope” and “grateful” have returned to the rhetoric. I’m going to have a glass of wine but this time to celebrate instead of to forget.
I live in the country, and many of my neighbors have been serious supporters of the former president. During the previous four years, the example set by the president seemed to make some feel like they had carte blanche to treat others, particularly those of us with different ideas, as intruders, as suspect, and more than a few acted like childish, unintelligent people. But this was the example set for them. Sad.
But the example set for us by President Biden and Vice President Harris is clear: it reflects the president’s very own faith in the words of Thomas Merton: “Our job is to love others without stopping to decide if they are worthy.”
That should be normal. That should be how we act on any given day. But for four years I’ve felt like my most successful days were when I made it home without having an argument, without having a stroke. Life should not be like that, but it was. It really was.
No more. Now, while we still have a transition to endure, the golden rule—quoted today during President Biden’s speech—is in favor again, and the normal acts of human behavior to treat others with respect, to act with dignity and integrity, and to have some self-respect, have returned.
The view from this wilderness today is one of hope. It’s been a long time coming.