Jone Johnson Lewis
Writing on Inauguration Day, 2021
While my mind wants to believe today that we are waking up after a nightmare, this was a period that caused incredible damage. (I’m remembering that the outgoing president’s inaugural address four years ago was titled by his followers “American Carnage.”)
So it is less like waking from a dream, and more like we are coming back to our town after a hurricane. Some losses are permanent, and need to be mourned. There is a lot to clean up, much to rebuild, and opportunities to build new in ways that serve us better. And it will take resources, hard work, courage, and resilience.
We must also recognize that the storm didn’t damage us all equally. Some areas of damage need to have more attention more quickly than others do. We’ve all been in the same storm, but not in the same boat. There was already a system in place that was unfair and people already suffering more than others. We can, we must, address that, not just rebuild the way it was.
Some of the work is foundational — we can’t make other progress until some infrastructure (of our very democracy) is repaired or rebuilt. Or rethought and reimagined. That may seem to distract from other repair and rebuilding, but is essential.
And we need to rebuild in ways that will sustain us through the next storm, stronger to resist that storm’s power to destroy. Because there will be new storms.
AND we can celebrate that the storm is over.