I was introduced to the words of Amanda Gorman in the same way most of you were – through her inauguration poem recited on January 20, 2021 when President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in as the leaders of this country. As the nation took in a collected sigh of relief, this young woman stood before the nation and told us that in order stop the divide of this country “we must first put our differences aside,” and to “lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms/to one another.”
There’s a lot wrong and ugly with this country. To call it ideology is a great disservice to the actual issue. Ideology should argue what to conserve and what to progress in this country, not who gets hold down another. Not which citizen gets to vote, and which voice falls on deaf ears.
As I drafted this, Georgia made it illegal to hand out water for those waiting in long lines at the polls. Made it more difficult for the working class to vote on election day by shortening up the hours in which they can cast their ballot. Arkansas has decided that trans youth doesn’t deserve the right to healthcare. And several other states want to pass similar voting and human rights laws.
On January 6, 2021, while I lay in bed stricken with a virus that had killed hundreds upon thousands of United States citizens, I watched a deranged, failed president instruct his followers to storm the Capitol in order to steal the vote. These men and women were spoon-fed lie after lie by their leader because the idea of losing was so foreign to him, it couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be fair. I watched as they carried out a woman who’d been shot within the walls of congress. Watched as a man climbed up the building, removed the United States’ flag and replaced it with a Trump flag. Watched as they fought police. How one died from injuries sustained and another committed suicide later.
We are far from a perfect country, but, as Amanda Gorman said, maybe we are not “striving to form a union that is perfect”; perhaps we should “forge a union with purpose,/to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and/conditions of man.”
I begin my month-long celebration of National Poetry Month with her inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Please enjoy.