“And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another” -Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb” presented during the Inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden

We are witnessing history in the making, and we are the creators of that story. The Inauguration of 2021 for President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Vice President Kamala D. Harris feels like a turning point for our nation. It was a triumph of the people that power transferred peacefully despite it being threatened. Even though our country has been tested again and again, nevertheless, democracy prevailed. Nothing said it better than the beautiful poetic gift of Amanda Gorman calling us to begin the journey back to each other.

How do we begin the work? How can we lay aside our swords and turn them into plowshares to plant the seeds for that more perfect union? It seems overwhelming, but something I recalled seeing yesterday gives me hope. From every age and background, ordinary people inspired to do whatever they can, are lifting another’s burdens, and in the case of Eugene Goodman, protecting liberty in a split second choice. We tend to think unless something is big or noticed, it doesn’t matter. I know I feel this way from time to time, depressed that I am not where the action is, and wonder how I can still serve my community in a meaningful way. It is about finding one’s purpose in this life, and considering the challenges of the year since the pandemic started, there is something for everyone to do and multiple ways to contribute.

As I share in The Civil Graces Project, I think the idea of division is a myth we continue to embody. While we are deeply at odds with one another, I wonder how the story would change if we stopped believing in separation. What if we truly realized that our actions or inactions set into motion a wave that affected ourselves and those around us? Quantum theory has explored this idea, and at a fundamental level, has demonstrated we are operating in this unified field with one another. When we slow down and recognize this by making time and space, we can truly see it. At a psychological level, what we think about is what we often perceive. If we look for division, we will see it. Likewise, as we saw presented yesterday, thousands of acts of love surround us and transform lives every day across our country.  

Where will we put our focus? Will we seek our shared future or solely our own survival? Are we willing to enter the field with respect and truth? What will be the oath we make as asked by the project The People’s Inauguration?  Can America depend on us to carry the spark of freedom within ourselves? Will we use our spark to inspire others to do the same? How can we re-member what and who we are as a nation?

Renewal is an opportunity to reconnect with our heritage with one another, make atonement, and then decide how we will move forward. We need each other and depend on thousands of great and small acts to make it through each day. President Biden spoke of one word in particular in his speech. “To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: Unity.”

Unity comes from the Latin root word, unus, which means ‘one.’ In order to create that sense of one-ness, we have to let go of our belief in separateness and superiority. It summons the spirit of harmony that finds its source in our very origin–E Pluribus Unum meaning “from many one.” We have always portrayed ourselves to be a nation of many merged into one whole no matter our diversity. We have seldom lived up to that vision. It is time we take up that call by putting our differences aside, not to lose sight of our diversity, but to realize everything belongs. The poem above invites us to reach out to each other and begin to reenvision a new world together.  It will take time and patience, but it feels like we are heading in the right direction!

Photo credit Biden-Harris Inauguration website.

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