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What a day. Like many I was fretting about it in anticipation of more madness. Why is it necessary to have the ceremony outdoors, why not just something small and private @ Camp David, I like many others asked. Why take the risk? Yesterday along with everyone else who was paying attention, I got my answer. As I scrolled through my Twitter feed I kept seeing reactions that were much like my own with the same question being asked repeatedly, “Why am I crying? Why am I flipping from giddiness to tears without explanation or control? What is going on with me?” As I woke this early morning I started to get my own answers to those questions.
Over the past four years, and in particular these past 10 months I have been troubled, anxious and all too many times on the edge of rage. While I could name and give voice to many of the reasons why, there was something more going on that was deeper and more at my core. My intuitive senses were telling me that something was very off and out of alignment with everything that framed my beliefs about myself and my world. In a sense, a constant and unanswerable question about everything that was surrounding me…”What is going on and how can it be happening”? January 6 was the awful exclamation point for me.
We are barraged by an incessant deluge of stimulation thanks to both technology and and our appetite for what Sen Sasse rightly called “information junk food”. In the best of times this can be disorienting. Clearly in these times, which have not nearly been the best, something far more dangerous has been happening. Lies and misinformation have been supercharged thanks to both their sources, as well as their means of dissemination. The breakdown of institutional norms, done in the virtuous name of de-regulation gave rise to the malignant media ecosystem that has eaten away at our ability to recognize fact from fiction. We have always had conspiracy theories about pretty much everything but we never before had a President who relished trafficking in them when they suited his means, especially one as adept as using social media as the last one. It has left us all with a sense of what I describe as moral weightlessness. Yesterday for the first time in what feels like a very long time, I felt the ground beneath my feet again.
The spectacle, seeing the Capitol as a shrine to our highest ideals, on a bright sunny day was a cleansing contrast to the scenes of mayhem and destruction that took place there just two weeks ago. The assemblage of representatives of all branches of government on the same platform, there for common purpose with perhaps a renewed sense of resolve; Fist bumps between Republicans and Democrats signaling something more hopeful in their future and ours; A rendition of the National Anthem more stirring than any I have ever witnessed or heard…And the words…from every speaker but especially from Amanda Gorman and of course from President Biden. The words and actions of all of them brought back my sense of equilibrium, restored my belief in the possibilities of my Country and my fellow companions on this journey of life…and all of that was what brought me to tears. Tears of joy, tears of relief and tears of longing…knowing that the journey from here will be difficult but hopeful. Like every journey it begins with its first step, and yesterday, together, all of us who watched, listened and took part took a sure one…and man did it feel good.