Today is the Inauguration Day of the 45th president of the United States of America. That means 45 times we have witnessed the peaceful transition of power and the passing of the baton between men of differing ideologies. When I consider how rare that is in our current world – and the history of the world – you have to pause and take pride in the people of the United States for continued belief in the office of the president and respect for the transition of power. Modern times has made the inauguration more of a show instead of the simple swearing into office and speech the event was once.
The 2001 inauguration we were in our final stretch of time in NoVa and I remember us watching George W. Bush be sworn in during school. I remember my daddy taking the day off work and going into the city with my mom for the inauguration and for one of the inaugural balls that evening. I remember thinking how incredible the peaceful transition was even as a sixth grader and realizing how special the governmental system was in the United States. I also put attending an inauguration on my bucket list, so maybe one day I’ll be able to cross that off.
Today as I reflect on the historical significance of the ceremony occurring today, and how the staff truly changes almost entirely overnight in the White House (crazy when you think about it!), I am humbled to pray for our country.
I pray that we will become unified in the belief that the United States is an amazing place to live and awed by the simple, peaceful transition that occurs today.
I pray that we will become united communities that seek to love others as ourselves and step up to fill in gaps that will be left by the governmental spending cuts that are coming.
I pray that we will honor and respect our neighbors, ourselves and our political process.
I pray that true dialogue will begin where both sides of the aisle actually listen to the other and work on plans to compromise and respect that both parties were elected to our representative assembly, and both parties ideals represent different sides of our American ideal.
I pray that education will become a larger priority for our nation, and students will be able to learn more than how to take a standardized test that tells us nothing about the intelligence of each child or the quality of the educator teaching them.
I pray that my friends who are police officers will feel safe doing their job, and their families will be able to worry less about whether they’ll be home again.
I pray that every American will be able to have and afford healthcare and that there is a plan to replace the ACA that congressmen have been so desperate to repeal.
I pray that in the gap of federal funding of the arts and humanities, we see a grassroots movement to showcase the importance of these disciplines to the human experience and why art isn’t just a frivolous interest of the wealthy.
I pray that we communicate the value of every member of our society regardless of the color of their complexion, their mental health, their class or their occupation; I pray that the marginalized who are fearful now, will feel safe again in the weeks and months to come.
I pray that we as a country address mental health reform and begin a true national dialogue on mental healthcare and acknowledge it as equal to physical health and begin to treat it as such.
I pray that the nasty sound bite vacuum culture we have created and perpetuated through social media and the internet disappears in wake of realizing how mean it is and how it moves us nowhere.
I pray we become a nation that treats kindness as a high ideal and extends kindness at every turn, especially when having ideological discussions in all platforms.
I pray that freedom of the press and freedom of religion will again mean what they once did, and that journalists and people of all faiths will feel protected by the Bill of Rights that gives these freedoms in the first place.
There is so much I hope and pray for our country as we embrace a new administration and an opposing ideology to what has guided the country for the last 8 years. Our country is deeply divided and wounded and crying out for healing, and my prayer is that we begin to heal. The healing will occur day by day in the daily relationships and interactions that have been shattered this past election cycle. It’s a healing that will begin in personal relationships and individual communities before it reaches the halls of Congress and the people’s house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s a healing I truly believe we are capable of if we can put aside our own pride and act in kindness and compassion.
We each hold deep ideals of what is best for our country and act on them through how we spend our time and money bettering our communities, but we need to also respect that the difference of idea is what is so incredible about our political system. There have been different ideas about the role of government since our founding and there will always be different perspectives of what is best for the United States, but we need to find a way to engage well with those we disagree with and remain steadfast friends and family.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia were true friends who enjoyed each others company, but were of deeply different ideologies; yet they honored the value they saw in the other person and treated each other with respect and kindness. Our founding fathers and their successors were similar in being able to disagree respectfully, tactfully and kindly, continuing to find value in the person and their similarities outside of their political beliefs.
That is my greatest prayer for our country. The prayer that we will return to treating others kindly and respecting someone for who they are while also re-learning the true skills of rhetoric and debate, not the mockery of debate that exists in our curated vacuums.
I pray true dialogue opens up and that the hearts and ears and minds of our country are ready.
I pray we unite as a country and forge together for the continued betterment of the country we all feel so passionately about.
I pray that love will trump hate and I pray that we will choose kindness.
Happy Inauguration Day my fellow Americans. May this country continue to be the land that we love.