How To Make a Vision of a Country that Works For All of Us
“One year ago today, health officials told Americans about a traveler who had just come home from Wuhan, China, sought treatment at an urgent-care clinic north of Seattle after falling ill — and set off alarm bells. The man had the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States.”
Enter our constant, mutating companion of the past year, the coronavirus — something we had definitely not envisioned.
“[The] inaugural committee contacted [poet] Amanda Gorman late last month. … Jill Biden had seen a reading she gave at the Library of Congress and suggested Gorman read something at the inauguration. She wasn’t given any explicit guidelines about what to write, she said.
“Gorman began the process, as she always does, with research. She took inspiration from the speeches of American leaders who tried to bring citizens together during times of intense division, including Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She also spoke to two of the previous inauguration poets.
“When she asked Elizabeth Alexander for advice, ‘she just basically told me, “The poem is already written, it’s already done. Now, it’s just up to you to bring it to life as best as you can,” Gorman said.”
This, Beloved, as we well know, is how all manifesting works. As Steven Covey advised, Start with the end in mind. Business guru Simon Sinek admonishes, Start with why. It’s called having a vision.
Both are correct. Why you want what you want the end to look like. And when manifestation is between just you, and say, a new car, the Cadillac has no preference, so it’s easy. You want a new car. You go see the Potemkins. You pays yer money. You drive off the lot in new wheels. Done and done.
But what about when the vision is a shared one? Maybe better said, what about when the vision has to be a shared one? Well, that’s quite a different story. Contemplate these recent visions that have been offered up for our consideration.
The Quotation of the Day in The New York Times is from President Biden’s inaugural remarks, “We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” That’s one vision. How about this from an essay by Roger Cohen? “As Simon Schama, the British historian, has observed, ‘When truth perishes so does freedom.’” Ouch. Here’s another:
“If the pomp and circumstance were constrained by the challenges of the day, Mr. Biden’s determination to get off to a fast start unraveling the Trump presidency was not. In the Oval Office, where he had Mr. Trump’s portrait of Andrew Jackson taken down and one of Franklin D. Roosevelt put up, Mr. Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations aimed at reversing major elements of the last administration, a significant repudiation of his predecessor and a more expansive set of Inauguration Day actions than any in modern history.
“‘Here we stand, where 108 years ago, at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘And today we marked the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office: Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.’”
Okay, I like that one. How about you? Here’s one from the always-insightful Charles M. Blow.
“Donald Trump is a racist and a white supremacist. And yet, millions of Americans — again, mostly white — either agreed with his views or were willing to abide them. I know that there will be those who warn that I should just let this go, that holding on to it is ‘divisive.’
“To them I say, ‘Hell no.’ You can’t have a feeling of unity after there was enforcement of a practice of cruelty. There must be acknowledgment and accountability. There must be contrition and repentance.
“It is not enough to simply let the co-conspirators and abettors of a white supremacist president quiet down and cool off, biding their time, waiting for the next opportunity for their riotousness and wrath to be unfurled and unleashed.
“How is it that people of good conscience and good faith are supposed to make common cause, to find healing and unity, with people who have demonstrated their contempt for the equal humanity of others? Where is the center point between my determination to be free and your determination to contain or constrict that freedom?”
He asks good questions, Beloved. Ones we ought to be asking ourselves as we build our vision.
Bradley Onishi is a religion professor. His article, “Trump’s New Civil Religion: The storming of the Capitol is a creation myth for a political movement” gave me shivers. He lays out another vision entirely.
“Since the presidential election was called for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, President Trump has cultivated the myth that the election was stolen.” … “But myths are often invulnerable to reality.” … “The myth became the basis for contesting the facts.” … “A myth becomes reality through ritual, when its story is dramatized and its adherents brought to collective participation in it.”
Sound familiar? Spookily so, to me. How about this one?
It is a great irony that the one thing former President Trump values above all else is loyalty. Uh, that would be loyalty to himself. The Proud Boys and their compatriots are already defecting.
“But by this week, the group’s attitude toward Mr. Trump had changed. ‘Trump will go down as a total failure,’ the Proud Boys said in the same Telegram channel on Monday.
“As Trump distanced himself from the Capitol violence, ‘The disappointment was immediately palpable.’ One Proud Boys Telegram channel posted: ‘It really is important for us all to see how much Trump betrayed his supporters this week. We are nationalists 1st and always. Trump was just a man and as it turns out an extraordinarily weak one at the end.’”
So much for loyalty. Another vision, this from the Letters to the Editor today. “Donald Trump never drained the swamp. He pardoned it.” Tom Goodman writes from Philadelphia. What’s a person to do in order to create a collective vision, one that works for everyone?
Professor Onishi clarifies and offers a clue, “If we are going to reckon with the import and legacy of Jan. 6, we must look inward.”
Ohhh, I see. That’s where why is to be found. Within. And if we’re honest, not serving some ideological demi-god, so is genuine vision. It’s an inside-out job, Beloved.
Chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman also points out a clue. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Make Meaning the Hottest Inaugural Fashion Trend,” she leads. “But most striking of all was the ubiquity of purple, which turned out to be practically the signature color of the inauguration.
“Perhaps because it combines the red and blue of recent political schism into a unified whole (the theme of inauguration was, after all, ‘America United’). Perhaps because, along with white, it was one of the colors of the suffragists, and to wear it was to acknowledge the fulfillment of their dream embodied by Ms. Harris. Or perhaps because, as the National Woman’s Party (the original suffragist organization) wrote in a 1913 newsletter, ‘Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause.’”
There’s been an awful lot of swerving in the past four+ years, hasn’t there? I wrote of whiplash earlier this week by no mistake.
Amanda Gorman, 22, is the youngest ever inaugural poet. “But none of her predecessors faced the challenge that Gorman did. She set out to write a poem that would inspire hope and foster a sense of collective purpose, at a moment when Americans are reeling from a deadly pandemic, political violence and partisan division.”
See that word, Beloved? di-vision. Traditional etymology would tell us that this meant two visions — usually contrasting, divergent ones. But what if we muse instead on my brand of folk etymology? Di- is also a prefix meaning of God. What if, instead of division, we were to choose God’s vision for these, please God, Soon-to-be-United-again States?
“On Wednesday, as [the stunning young poet] recited ‘The Hill We Climb,’ in front of the Capitol in the bright sunlight, her voice animated and full of emotion, Gorman described her background as a ‘skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,’ who can dream of being president one day, ‘only to find herself reciting for one.’”
If you didn’t see her live, you may do so below. A more exquisite poem I may never know.
There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it
There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to be it
There is always light, Beloved, and I’m with Ms. Gorman, sometimes it takes real bravery to see it. When we willingly turn inward to see that light, that’s when, at long last, we finally learn the truth that makes us free. We are the light we’ve been waiting for.
See it. Be it. Now.
Dr. Susan Corso is a spiritual teacher, the founder of iAmpersand, and the author of The Mex Mysteries, the Boots & Boas Books, and spiritual nonfiction. Her essays address the intersection between spirituality and culture. Find out more at www.susancorso.com