On Being Brave


January 20th was the 59th presidential inauguration in our country’s history. It was unusual for many reasons, not only because of the pandemic and the recent attack on the Capitol, but because of the history made by Kamala Harris when she was sworn in as the Vice-President.


Although people may disagree on politics, the inaugural events serve to remind us of all of the great things this country stands for. Although there is much work to do to make the reality match the ideals, I remain hopeful that we can make this happen.


I can’t think of a better expression of that potential than the poem read at the inaugural ceremony by Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first youth poet laureate.


“The Hill We Climb” can be read and re-read as we look for inspiration in the days and years to come.


Here it is in its entirety:


When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?


The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade


We've braved the belly of the beast


We've learned that quiet isn't always peace


And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice


And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it


Somehow we do it


Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished


We the successors of a country and a time


Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one


And yes we are far from polished

far from pristine but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect



We are striving to forge a union with purpose


To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man


And so we lift our gazes 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


Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:


That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious


Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division


Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree


And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time


Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made


That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare


It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it


We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it


Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded


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


This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception


We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter


To offer hope and laughter to ourselves


So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?


Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?


We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be


A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free


We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation


Our blunders become their burdens


But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright


So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with


Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one


We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution


We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south


We will rebuild, reconcile and recover and every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful


When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid


The new dawn blooms as we free it


For there is always light,


if only we’re brave enough to see it


If only we’re brave enough to be it

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