I readily admit that I am cynical at times. Who wouldn’t be after the last four years? But a strange, new feelings now envelope me. Hope. And faith. Faith in the new president to let his deep religious beliefs and extraordinary life experiences guide him. Faith that he knows and understands regular Americans and most importantly, the American ideal. Faith that honesty and truth will be his guiding forces. And hope that people of all political persuasions will give him a fair chance. He made it clear in his inaugural address that he knows full well that some will never agree with him but also was quick to say that at its core, that is what democracy is all about.
His tasks – our tasks – are harder than anyone could have imagined four years ago. But after hearing the amazing Amanda Gorman I must repeat what I’ve been saying to anyone who would listen for those last awful four years: our hope lies with the young. They must take charge, and I think many of them are ready. Our time, baby boomers, has passed. Dylan said it almost 60 years ago: “Your old road is rapidly agin’ So please get out of the new one is you can’t lend a hand.”
I choked up many times while watching the inauguration. Amanda’s recitation made me do that again and again. Watching President Biden and Vice President Harris’s families react made me choke up. Lada Gaga’s performance of the national anthem brought a big lump to my throat. Jlo, not so much….I think the lady needed to remember that the event was not about HER. And Garth Brooks deserves credit for taking on Amazing Grace acapella, not an easy task for anyone.
But mostly I choked up during President Biden’s speech. Not so much because of what he said, although the message and his delivery of it were awe-inspiring. I choked up because I imagined what my parents would have thought. My dad was a keen and astute observer and scholar of history and with his background in journalism he always took a somewhat detached view of all politicians, even though he was a dyed-in-the-wool Roosevelt Democrat. But I know he would have been outraged at what we have lived through for the last four years, and continue to live through. I can almost see the smile that would have been on his face as he realized the America his generation fought and died for defeating the Nazis in World War II has once again emerged from a very dark hour, scarred but victorious and with renewed commitment to the ideals of our founding fathers and the Constitution. And thinking of my wife’s father who survived four years of unimaginable horror in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after surviving the Bataan Death March. What would he have thought of the last four years, and how would he have reacted to seeing the reemergence of the real America? That my friends is why I choked up, again and again.
I also choked up thinking of my children and grandchildren. Part of the searing pain in my gut for the last four years was based in the fear of what their world might become. As much as I put my faith in the younger generation, would they be equal to the task of reclaiming the American ideal? It didn’t seem so at times. The blows to their future seemed unrelenting. But now I see real possibilities. Will they be able to take advantage of them no matter how very difficult it will be? In my heart of hearts, I believe they will. They must.
I have dear friends who I know did not vote for Joe Biden. I’m not quite sure what I will say to them the next time we’re together. I pray that they aren’t harboring hate in their hearts as some on the other side will continue to do. However, I’ve made a vow that I won’t lecture them or gloat. Those things serve no purpose and will do nothing to change their minds. What I’ll do is what I’ve done for the last four years: do my best to stay calm, listen to them and push back any ego-based reactions, and hope that as time passes they will become just a little bit more open. There’s nothing else I can do, really. But I do promise to listen and if I do choose to explain myself, hope that they will listen, too. Isn’t that at the core of what President Biden was talking about?
In over eleven years of doing this blog I have never done a post that had nothing to do with playing the guitar; this is the first. I appreciate you for indulging me and hope you’ll read my blog again. I promise to get back to guitar and music related subjects the next time. What you’ve just read comes from my heart. Thank you.
Peace & good music,