January 20: America’s light rekindled

The only presidential inauguration I ever got an engraved invitation to was Nixon’s in 1969. I didn’t go. Covid sidelining Biden’s was a big disappointment. I’d considered flying down nevertheless, just to stand witness, but even that was discouraged, for safety’s sake. And then came January 6.

A sea of flags planted on the mall represented the absent crowd. One was mine.

Four years ago the incoming president spoke of forgotten Americans, forgotten no longer. Last night, forgotten no longer were the 400,000 Americans who died on his watch.

The election had palpably lifted my emotional baseline. Though until today I still felt much anxiety, for obvious reasons. Watching the inauguration was a sublime moment of cathartic culmination and deliverance — intensified by mindfulness of my own contribution. This, more than anyone ever, is my president.

Of course, now comes the hard part. President Biden bears a weight of responsibility no human should ever be asked to carry. But we couldn’t have found a better person to lead us. A president we can be proud of, reflecting not America’s worst but its best. Though I don’t expect to approve of everything — after all, I was a conservative Republican for half a century.

So playing defense will be a lot less fun than criticizing. And normalcy and sanity will seem boring after the last four years. I’ll likely, strangely, miss the tumult.

It’s a truism of human psychology that hate can be more powerful than love, indignation stronger than approval, opposition more emotionally satisfying than supportiveness. Trump lovers were defined by their hatreds, which he channels. Writing about politics sure got my juices flowing. But I don’t actually expect that will end.

* * *

Long at the core of my being was belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity, advancing through rationality. With a democratic America standing as the great embodiment of those ideals. We’ve even had a stamp proclaiming, “America’s light fueled by truth and reason.” A picture of it adorns my wall.

But for the last four years, it’s been a painful daily reminder of loss. That light seemed to have failed.

Today, at last, it shines once more with truth and reason.

This is a good day. My heart is full.

4 Responses to “January 20: America’s light rekindled”

  1. Robyn Blumner Says:

    Beautiful. You brought a tear to my eye. As did today’s ceremony.

    Robyn E. Blumner *President and CEO*, Center for Inquiry *Executive Director,* Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 205 Washington, D.C. 20005 RBlumner@centerforinquiry.org

    The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Our vision is a world where people value evidence and critical thinking, where superstition and prejudice subside, and where science and compassion guide public policy.

    On Wed, Jan 20, 2021 at 2:03 PM The Rational Optimist wrote:

    > rationaloptimist posted: ” The only presidential inauguration I ever got > an engraved invitation to was Nixon’s in 1969. I didn’t go. Covid > sidelining Biden’s was a big disappointment. I’d considered flying down > nevertheless, just to stand witness, but even that was discou” >

  2. Scott Perlman Says:

    Very well said. I could not agree with you more.
    Yet for me, this is a bittersweet day. I know that approximately 50% of the country is feeling reborn, hopeful, encouraged. At exactly the same time, 50% feels like this is the beginning of the end. Worse of all, few people on either “side” acknowledge the feelings and legitimacy of the other. And there is almost a complete absence of civil dialog.
    I am a bit tired and suspicious of all the talk of reuniting our country. Rather, I await the actual acts of leadership and courage that will acknowledge the interests of all our people. I am optimistic that the vast majority of us share the same interests, the same goals. We differ greatly on how to get there and tribalism locks us into an immovable position. I hope real results, transparency, and great communication lead us out of this morass.

  3. Chips Says:

    Frank, It’s a good day to put your flag back up.

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    Chips, I put my flag back up Nov 4

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