The insurrection at the US Capitol two weeks ago shook me, hard. I had bad dreams. I felt sick all over. I could not stop scrolling the news, searching for stories of consequences for the rioters. When I went grocery shopping two days later, I felt suspicious of every person in the store. Of each I wondered if they were likely to be driven to mayhem and murder when things didn't go their way, when driven to the edge of insanity by lies and misinformation.
In short, I felt traumatized. Maybe it was because the day before the insurrection I'd had my own run-in with people loitering around the Statehouse, looking to start trouble (I won't call them protestors; I've participated in many protests, and no one has ever screamed in the face of a passerby--or anyone else). But I believe that anyone of conscience in this country, anyone who's gotten teary-eyed while humming along to "My Country 'Tis of Thee," anyone who, despite knowing that the reality falls far short of the ideal, believes deeply in the promise of liberty and equality, must have felt the same visceral horror and shock at the desecration that took place in the heart of our democracy.
As the days passed, the inauguration neared, arrests started to roll in, and quiet began to settle over the land, the full-body revulsion I felt began to be replaced by a different feeling--hope. Not the grand, lofty hope we all felt at the start of Obama's presidency, the hope of a changed world, of the arc of justice bending more sharply, but rather a more mundane, bureaucratic hope. The hope of competent people setting out to govern not out of spite but for the good of all. Hope that children will be taken out of cages and returned to their families, hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be addressed in a coordinated and centralized fashion, hope that people will receive some economic relief, hope that climate change will be approached as the existential threat that it is.
I know people who are already agitating that this administration won't be the paragon of perfect progressiveness they believe this country needs, but for now I'll settle for the righting of the ship of state. I'll settle for articulate speeches about possibilities. I'll settle for a moment of silence to acknowledge the 400,000 people who died of COVID-19 over the last year and who had been dismissed by the previous administration. I'll settle for immediate administrative actions to erase some of their more egregious policies.
I will also celebrate the FIRST WOMAN Vice President, the first African-American Vice President, the first Asian-American Vice President. As Kamala Harris took the oath of office and my eyes filled with tears, I realized that we didn't get a chance to celebrate this monumental achievement after the election amid all of the noise and rancor about election results generated by the merchants of lies and disinformation. But now we can breathe deeply again--for the first time in four years--and we can embrace and enjoy this moment for what it is--huge, earth-shattering, beautiful, and long overdue.
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