Happy Post-Inauguration Day friends! I hope you are doing well. I found yesterday to be a breath of fresh air, a much-needed reset button. For the first time in five years, I felt like I could breathe. I felt hope, which has been desperately lacking from our landscape.
I loved the colors of the dresses the women wore. Michelle Obama’s pantsuit was magnificent. To see our political leaders (on BOTH sides) able to joke, enjoy each other’s company, and come together was a welcome sight. Then a trip to the National Cemetery, a reaffirming our military serves a country, not a person, and a conversation on why the peaceful transition of power matters. Why, even if you don’t agree with the outcome, you respect the will of the people (and don’t tear it down with unfounded lies of fraud).
The virtual parade highlighted what is good and real about this country. It highlighted the best part of us – our diversity! – and set the image of what America could be if it lived up to the ideals stated in our Declaration.
One of the speakers pointed to The Preamble of the Constitution: We the people, in order to form a more perfect union. Not a perfect one. Not one cemented in stone. No one that does not need realignment and protection and to be strengthened. It is a thesis best upheld when we all move towards our better angels and realize what we get to do here is precious, ever-adapting, and good.
Our democracy works when we look to the foundation established by the Founding Fathers and strive to uphold the truths laid out before us.
Our democracy works when we admit we have not done it perfectly, ever. But that does not mean we give up. We refuse to give in to defeat and throw in the towel. We say – our vision was cast in a mighty direction and forward we keep going.
We get to “all (people) created equal” by acknowledging our shameful past. We admit (not gloss over) the sins of our fathers, men who saw anyone else (wives, children, slaves, Indigenous people, etc.) as less than, things to be controlled, property. Men who were human, products of their time.
We admit how we have failed in our strides towards equality. How we refused to give those freed from slavery land even as we gave millions of acres away to white settlers on their push West. We acknowledge letting terror and violence win. We admit allowing fear to keep us from doing what was right and thereby emboldened a system of racism and hate we now have to disassemble.
We acknowledge that our Puritan founders were wrong in so many of their tendencies. They were wrong to bring the inherent racism of Europe to our shores, to steal what was not theirs to take, to move into this land like something we were owed versus something to be appreciated and respected. We acknowledge the sin of Manifest Destiny. We acknowledge the sin of a re-created history.
We acknowledge the sin of putting white men above all others. And we acknowledge how many of the systems established along the way helped to create two Americas, one which shelters many in the white community from the consequences of our supposed superiority.
Simply put, we cannot process what we do not name.
In all of the joy and beauty of yesterday, in all of the stories, the life, the color, the heritage, the diversity of the day – all I kept thinking is, “why can’t this be us? What in yesterday scares so many so much?”
If it is people rising above their place. Who set those boundaries? Why not take them away?
If it is this dated idea that this is a “white country.” I direct you back to our real history.
It is arrogant (and sinful) to cultivate this white man first fantasy another day. This land was not unoccupied when we got here. God did not give us permission to overtake it using means antithetical to who He is. God does not care about white people more. Neither Jesus nor God are white men who taught power above all else. (Read the New Testament, this will all become clear very quickly.)
We need to acknowledge the Catholic Church’s abuse of the idea of race. We need to acknowledge the Protestant Church’s complicity by carrying that sin across the sea. We need to admit that for hundreds of years the church has failed in its mandate to care for the poor, marginalized, immigrant, and the poor, and that far too often those groups exist because of decisions from the Church.
If you only have power at the expense of another, you have no grounding in the Word of God. What you hold is an idol of fear. The best thing you can do is show some humility. The truth hurts but the freedom on the other side is so, so good!
For all of you who are terrified of accountability (or equality), that means you know something in this system is wrong – lean into that and stop hiding behind anger and violence. You do more harm than good.
For someone raised in a fairly conservative, Republican home, I know they will be the hardest group to get on board. They fear they will have to give things up. But maybe the best way forward is for them to finally admit they have had more than their share this entire time.
It is not socialism to give back what you have hoarded. It is just and Biblical and right. It is time some of us stop taking up three seats at the table so those who we saw uplifted in the events of yesterday can finally sit down. All people created equal.
Yesterday, we saw a vision of what America could be. And as President Biden said, it will take all of us to get there.
(Cover image via Biden Inaugural Facebook)