I write this today from a perspective that is probably quite unlike that of any American who has engaged in some way with the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States of America: Joseph R. Biden Jr. Let me begin by saying unequivocally that I am an American who happens to be from Canada, a nation of North America, and one which enjoys a shared undefended border, the longest in the world, with the USA. That my perspective is different stems partly from having been a Broadcast Journalist and a retired Associate Professor of Broadcasting and Mass Media. I have watched and observed inauguration events beginning with that of President John F. Kennedy, while I was still in high school. This one in 2021 for the 46th President is and has been in my opinion a significant event that promises to be the beginning of the undoing of vast wrongs perpetrated by the outgoing President, #45.
As a Canadian I have resided in various parts of the USA entitled by my status as a Resident Alien, a hard won status solidified by the action of a Senator from Illinois who instructed the Chicago office of the Immigration Department to take up my case. I have benefitted from that status ever since, such as gaining opportunities afforded by paying taxes faithfully. I have been able to progress through a chosen career in academe, working in Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, rising to the rank of Associate Professor and Associate Director of Broadcasting. I have been able to raise a family with my wife, see both sons marry and to see the addition to my extended family of two grandchildren. All the while during this process, I have watched carefully the activities of the Presidential administrations and the operations of Congress, all of which were presumed to be on behalf of the American people.
As an educator immersed in the craft of broadcasting and mass media I have had many opportunities to refer to the Constitution of the United States. The opening words are meaningful to me.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,”
I deem it significant that the words “We the people” are critical to understanding the singular purpose of the United States form of Democracy. Similarly the words “to form a more perfect Union” signify the fundamental obligation of those chosen to govern the Republic. The past four years have seen an abrogation of that responsibility and sense of an appropriate goal. I am heartened by the promise made by President Biden to work toward a better unity. May the Congress and its members on both sides of the aisle and in both houses join in the same goals.
I do think that the road ahead will not be easy. There are most definitely rough spots ahead, indeed perhaps many miles of road torn up by division and disagreement. But I am especially impressed by the poem delivered by 22 year old African American poet Amanda Gorman, entitled The Hill We Climb. This beautiful young lady expresses a deliberate and demanding trust for the future.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
Gorman also recited a hope for the future.
“And so we lift our gaze, 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. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.”
The America that has permitted me to support my family is one that I hope and trust will succeed under the leadership of a new President who understands humility and firm resolve for the hard work that lies ahead. An unwavering Democracy in America will help the resolve many other nations have, not all certainly, to seek goals of harmony in the world.
President Biden spoke of an essential behavior that should be adopted by all Americans if peace and unity is to be imagined and accomplished.
“And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
This is a difficult but not insurmountable task. It does require putting aside the events of the past, especially the most recent past of a mere two weeks ago. It does require a concerted effort to pay attention to the hopes and fears of every other American group. It does mean working hard to seek and develop appropriate solutions that account for the genuine needs of our neighbors. It does require putting aside our personalized demands for our own gratifications in place of benefits for the widest possible array of Americans. It can be done if we want it.
I have no power of prognostication. The future is always uncertain. We can only hope and trust that our combined concerted efforts for good will produce a future that is better than what has been experienced in the past few years. I absolutely believe that the economy can be strengthened, that the pandemic can be overcome, that the nation can become stronger, that its people can become more resilient in faith, spirit, health and outlook. In the words of Jean Luc Picard: “Make it so.”