After the Rain Comes a Rainbow

Oh, have I waited for this day. On January 20, 2017, I was on a work trip in Southern California. The week been sunny and beautiful until that Friday. I woke up to pouring rain and air so chilly, my fuzzy North Face came in handy. Yes, that happens in SoCal. I didn’t want to watch Trump’s inauguration, but deciding to buck up and face it, I flipped the TV on. I was just in time to catch his swearing in and his speech—none of which alleviated the rising dread that flooded my body to 1. Hear him talk; 2. See our National Mall awash in those silly red hats. The weather in DC was as awful as it was in California that day: cold, dark, foreboding. It was ominous.

On my red eye flight out of LAX that night, the plane was packed with Californian women winging their way East to protest in the Women’s March. Wearing pink hats with the pointed cat ears, they were ready for business. After a flight where no one slept, we alighted in Baltimore with all of them headed directly to DC to let the new president know exactly what they thought of him.

A few weeks later, my family protested the Muslim travel ban at Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall International Airport. Protesting the Trump administration in word and deed became a new part of my existence. What a heavy four years it has been. And the last two months—sheesh.

But on Inauguration day 2021, the sun was shining bright. And the wind was quite strong. Perfect as nature had to clear out the funk in the air that departed early in the morning. It is exactly two weeks since domestic terrorists stormed the capital building. And a lot of us have been concerned that there was something horrific planned for today’s ceremonies. Personally, I have been praying for the safety and protection of all involved from Joseph R. Biden, right down to the guy tasked with dutifully disinfecting the podium after every speaker and performer.

And it couldn’t have gone any better. It was peaceful. It was safe. It was a new day.

Highlights of the day for me:

  • Kamala Devi Harris (Aunty) becoming the first female VP of this country and a Jamaican, South Indian, Howard graduate, and AKA sister at that! I’m so proud to have witnessed that.
  • Meena Harris’ little daughters with their matching tundra coats and fluffy pigtails. Maybe one day it will be one of them sworn into the highest office of the land.
  • The fashion of the ladies: Dr. Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, all the monochromatic and perfectly matched masks of the Biden women, Ella Emhoff, and Lady Gaga with a big ole dove of peace on her top!
  • Joe Biden’s speech: unity, equity, hope. A promise to try to bind the wounds and work together. The man has the track record to show he knows how to reach across the aisle. I look forward to it.
  • Amanda Gorman. Good night. This woman. This poem. This brilliance. This truth. Wow. God broke the mold when He made her. That is all.
  • When the Harris-Emhoffs bid the Pence’s goodbye. Karen Pence said something to Doug Emhoff that got them all laughing. It goes to show you—at the end of the day, we are all just human beings looking to be friendly with friendly people.
  • The executive orders President Biden signed to get us on the right side of history. Yes, there is climate change. Yes, we needed to get back on the Paris Accord. He wasted no time and I’m here for it.
  • The new ALL-FEMALE communications team and the first press conference presided over by Jen Psaki. What a breath of fresh, life-giving air! No lying (go ahead, fact-check everything she said), no combativeness, no rude and petty behavior to the press pool. Just a whip smart, competent woman being transparent and letting the American people know what’s what.
  • ACTUAL PLANS FOR FIGHTING COVID. As an American citizen, this is the first time in four long years I feel looked after by my country’s leadership. We have needed this so bad.
  • The Inaugural Concert. Given where we are and what is going on? This event was about making as many of us feel included in the celebration as possible. Something most of us never come close to through any of the inaugural balls we don’t get to go to. Also, I have a hunch the Bidens and Harris-Emhoff’s weren’t too bummed about missed out on rounding nine balls this evening.
  • The Fireworks!!! So, a huge blessing of my life is living in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area and the nation’s capital is just a drive away. I love to go down to the capital at night—traffic is gone, street parking is easily found, and the monuments and memorials at night hit completely different than daytime. I wanted to drive down tonight, but we knew there were tons of road closures, etc. However, it would have been so worth it to see those fireworks! Honestly, they looked like the type that would be set off to celebrate victory over World War 3, which I guess it kind of was.
  • Finally, this was Joe Biden’s hard-won inauguration to the highest office in the land. But everything about the events of the day, from the speeches to the performances, to the overall vibe, was about healing the collective nation, not about celebrating him. It was this country’s big day and that felt good.

The Trump years are now a thing for history books and documentaries. I pray the media stops covering his and his family’s stupid shenanigans as the nation gets on with the business of working through the serious problems that need immediate attention.

But today? Today was a really great day.

Peace Isn’t Always Peaceful

Before anyone goes off thinking I’m advocating for war, please understand I am not. Ok. With that out of the way, let’s talk making peace in the United States of America, because we haven’t been this close to civil war since well, the Civil War. And forgive me if this post seems like it’s all over the place. Heavy topic.

Those on the far right have been saying the divide between right and left will never be bridged unless those on the left knock it off already. Those on the far left have said pretty much the same. There have been many a Tik Tok featuring a toothless, aging white man with a huge beard and a dirty trucker hat threatening to come for the sheeple and snowflakes for their deft thievery of the national election. It’s been super easy to laugh at the images and roll my eyes.

Then January 6 happened. As more details are emerging, the intent of the insurrection at the capitol has now been revealed to be much more sinister than many dared to believe. After all, why storm a building with zip ties unless you were planning to tie someone up and do harm?

This week, 20,000 National Guard troops have been setting up in DC ahead of the Biden/Harris inauguration. Everyone is on high alert because the toothless and those with a mouthful of chompers have been pretty open about what they hope to do with January 20. Thankfully, law enforcement appears to be actually listening.

So, where do we go from here?

I’m a history nerd and love the fact that I live in one of the 13 original colonies. I love our proximity to Washington D.C. and the fact that when we stroll the mall on a Saturday afternoon or take pictures on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial we are literally standing in the steps of history. This capital and this nation and all its stands for has its stories.

The world has seen great divides for centuries and at some point, amends have been made—sometimes freely, other times with great caution. Watching the World War II movie, Windtalkers the other day, a bigoted character in the film exclaimed disbelief that the Indigenous fellow GI he’d taunted actually saved his life, before saying the following: “Wouldn’t it be crazy maybe in 50 years we’ll be sipping beers with the Japanese?”

He spoke prophetically, did he not? The same can be said of Germany, (well prior to Trump messing things up), now one of our staunchest allies. How was peace brokered and nurtured there?

Well, one side had to surrender; one side had to admit defeat and accept it. That’s a starting point. But ideologies don’t just disappear overnight. Did Nazi ideas of racial supremacy evaporate once the Allies occupied and split the country into two? In Japan, did Emperor Hirohito cease to be a god in the eyes of his faithful when the articles of surrender were signed?

Interestingly enough, both Japan and Germany’s aggressions against the world were built on the ideas of race supremacy. To my knowledge (and I could be wrong), splinter groups in Japan embracing the ideas of their former emperor haven’t gained the footing that Neo-Nazi groups have throughout the world. As we’ve seen here in America, the flag “with the ugly spider,” as described by Gretl in The Sound of Music, is still waving—in the very nation who stormed Normandy to stomp it out.

Peace can be made in theory, but not always in action.

What will it take for the United States to truly be peaceful in action, not just in word? I wish I had answers. There are too many people entrenched in conspiracy theories, lies, and white supremacy right now. And unless you let those things go, there is no hand holding with truth tellers and people of different colors. In other words, you’ve got to get on the correct side of history in the eyes of humanity or common ground can’t be found.

You see, there are issues that go beyond the politics of running a country where compromise can’t be found. And those issues center around life and death. Racism leads to death for many Americans. As some have lamented their shock at why friendships and families have been ruined over Trump-following, I’d assert the issues of equality, justice, and the denouncement of racism and white supremacy are deal breakers. You either value all life in its diversity as on par with your own or you don’t. On issues like that, the side against that notion must capitulate or there is really no place to go.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., always chose a path of nonviolence, even when confronted with violence. All these years later, he is not wrong. Going high when others go low? That allows you to hold on to your dignity.

That said, I don’t believe in saying nothing. As Dr. King did, speak, write, and engage with others. Set people right when they are spouting wrong. Don’t shy away from the hard conversations. Have them and be firm about dispelling untruth with truth, facts, and a steady hand. Resist hysteria and lowering your standards out of anger. Stay even keeled and stay the course. I don’t know how or when or even if the nation will reach a point of peace at this point. But I do know that peace doesn’t come from standing back doing nothing.

For peace to truly win out, the method has to outweigh the madness.