January 20, 2021

It’s inauguration day today. Many have written about the past four years, the months since November 3 and the days since the January 6th Washington riot. This collective examination of who we are and who we – the USA – want to be as a nation has at times been disheartening and at other times, uplifting. I am hopeful that we will continue to look deeply into our soul as a nation and move more quickly and solidly into the dreams of “all are created equal” that our founders envisioned.

But, as January 6th portends, to do so will not be easy. Monday was Martin Luther King Day in the US. To honor it, I reread Letter from a Birmingham Jail that Dr. King wrote in April 1963. It is a powerful, necessary and discouraging read. Notwithstanding a few historical references, the Letter could have been written today. Today! Nearly 60 years later. The descriptions Dr. King provides of life for people of color seem as real now as then. His call for justice and just law is as alive now as then. We have a lot of work to do.

It’s also day 10 of Kathy and my self-isolation period here in Nova Scotia. We have been fortunate to witness history, good and bad, in the making these past few months. Kathy was with me in Minnesota on election day and again January 5th and 6th, a day that at times found us looking at each other in disbelief as we watched the riot. Now, we are here in Nova Scotia watching history.

With the Washington Monument in the background, President-elect Joe Biden with his wife Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with her husband Doug Emhoff listen as Yolanda Adams sings Hallelujah during a COVID-19 memorial, with lights placed around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

We both are feeling tensions release the closer we get to the swearing in ceremony. For us, and especially me as an American, the ceremony honoring the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19 was a longtime needed acknowledgement of the grief we hold as a nation for lives lost and a release of that grief. Kathy and I felt a powerful shift during the short, but beautiful ceremony. Watching MSNBC afterwards, Eddie Glaude Jr., when asked for comment on the ceremony gave words to what I think we all sensed, “The dead are now set free.”

So, on this Inauguration Day, three days after MLK Day and one day after the ceremony honoring lives lost, we invite us all to redouble our efforts to make explicit the past wrongs and to seek ways to bring forth the justice that Dr. King and those who followed in his path envisioned. And to those yet wandering in the wilderness, including those who continue to deny the election results and those who encouraged the riot, to find a way to open your hearts to a new day and new just world.

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