Ring Out the Cold, Ring in the New
Reported to me from a Facebook post … Better dress warmly for the Inauguration tomorrow — it’s supposed to be bitterly cold — minus 45.
“On Night Before Inauguration, Biden Leads Mourning for Virus Victims” ran the headline. The first such event at the federal level. “‘To heal we must remember,’ Mr. Biden said, standing in front of the Reflecting Pool, which was surrounded by 400 lights meant to mark the 400,000 victims of the virus. ‘It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all whom we lost.’”
Elementally, light is made of fire, Beloved, and if we wish, dream, intend, hope for our republic to arise from survival mode into thriving, we need the heat that fire naturally engenders.
In the spirit of remembering that President-Elect Biden recommends, have you met the incomparable Randy Rainbow? Please, allow me.
Roger Cohen reporting from Paris quotes, “Dmitri Medvedev, the former president of Russia and now deputy head of Mr. Putin’s Kremlin Security Council, [who] described America as mired ‘in a cold civil war’ that makes it incapable of being a predictable partner. In an essay, he concluded that, ‘In the coming years, our relationship is likely to remain extremely cold.’”
The antithesis of cold is heat, Beloved. Heat, warmth, caring which comes with light.
New York Times Theatre critic Jesse Green calls ‘Time!” this morning on the Trump-Shakespeare comparisons. Nicely, but he maintains, Enough already! “Rarely does Shakespeare present anyone as entirely evil; perhaps only Iago, who does not deny it. … Shakespeare’s characters are much richer and more readable than someone as unforthcoming as Trump. At the same time, we’d be lucky if he were merely Shakespearean; no made-up villain, even Iago, is as alarming as someone for whom all the world is truly a stage.
“Still, there’s something to be said for the Iago comparison. His final line, as he is dragged off to justice, is ‘From this time forth I never will speak word’ — a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
Here endeth the Remembrance of Trump. For the nonce.
For a moment, let us now remember ourselves.
Thomas L. Friedman writes, “Folks, we just survived something really crazy awful: four years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, each pumping out conspiracy theories without truth, brought directly to our brains by social networks without ethics — all heated up by a pandemic without mercy.”
It’s no metaphysical mistake that one of the primary symptoms of the virus is elevated temperature. Heat, Beloved. Heat. Again.
“It’s amazing that our whole system didn’t blow, because the country really had become like a giant overheated steam engine. What we saw in the Capitol last week were the bolts and hinges starting to come loose. The departure of Donald J. Trump from the White House and the depletion of his enablers’ power in the Senate aren’t happening a second too soon.”
Agreed, and bear with me, Mr. Friedman is deeply quote-worthy today.
“To me, the most striking feature of Trump’s presidency was that year after year he kept surprising us on the downside. Year after year he plumbed new depths of norm-busting, lying and soiling the reputations of everyone who entered his orbit. But he never once — not once — surprised us on the upside with an act of kindness, self-criticism or reaching out to opponents.
“His character was his destiny, and it became ours, too. Well, I’ve got good news. We can recover, provided that we all — politicians, media, activists — focus on doing what Trump never could: surprising each other on the upside.”
It is no surprise whatsoever that the first semi-official/official act of President-in-Less-Than-Three-Hours-as-I-write-this Biden was a ceremony of national mourning to honor those we lost to the virus built on the visual imagery of light in the darkness.
Mr. Biden, because his heart has been so deeply broken and because he has done the work to heal those wounds, brings warmth to Washington at long last.
Mr. Friedman again, “Upside surprises are a hugely underrated force in politics and diplomacy. They are what break bonds of pessimism and push out the boundaries of what we think possible. They remind us that the future is not our fate, but a choice — to let the past bury the future or the future bury the past.”
Well, we all know what Mr. Biden is choosing, don’t we? Here are the lede paragraphs on the top story in today’s Times.
“WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will unleash a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after taking the oath of office to sweep aside President Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, tear down his anti-immigration policies, bolster the sluggish economic recovery and restore federal efforts aimed at promoting diversity.
“Moving with an urgency not seen from any other modern president, Mr. Biden will sign 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon, according to the president-elect’s top policy advisers.”
My first thought was, Only 17. They must be monumental, sweeping, gargantuan. They are. As are his plans for his first 100 days. Basically, the plan comprises reversing as much of the Trump Travesty as he has the power to do as fast as he can. And vaccinating 100 million people — a third of our population — in the same length of time.
Mr. Friedman makes a plea to all of us. “So, I have two asks of every American: Give Joe Biden a chance to surprise you on the upside and challenge yourself to surprise him.”
What a great request. Let’s watch and pray and support and help and heal and grow and change so that our country stands a chance of recovery from virus, violence, and viciousness.
“Finally, as I said, before we tear Biden apart, how about everybody give him a few months to surprise us on the upside? Give him a chance to put country before party and fulfill his oath of office.
“In fact, when he is up there on the Capitol steps at noon Wednesday, taking the presidential oath to do just that, why don’t we all — you, me, your kids, your parents — take the oath with him at home:
“‘I do solemnly swear that I will … to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”
How might that look for you, Beloved? I’m going to have to think about that. One way I know I can help is to listen to the warmth, the care, the love, the relief in the exquisite voice of the Force of Nature known to her intimates (and fans) as Cher:
We could let happiness be a thing called Joe, Beloved, if we’ll put our hearts and our commitments on his side rather than against him. Cynicism is a cold, cold companion.
“Maybe if we all do that,” Mr. Friedman holds out hope, “maybe if we all give Joe a chance to surprise each of us on the upside, we can break the terrible political fever that has gripped our land alongside Covid-19. Now wouldn’t that be a pleasant surprise?”
A pleasant surprise, yes. A heart-warming surprise. A chance at change, at a new world, at reconciliation, at fairness, at healing, at justice, at honor, at love.
Congratulations, President Biden. Congratulations, Vice President Harris. I’m wearing my pearls, and filled with hope, as I, with you, welcome in a new, warmer day.
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