These first ten days of the Biden Administration have certainly seen a swirl of activities, a whirlwind of decisions with Joe occupying my TV with his foot on the accelerator! I was hoping to get a reprieve from news! Not happening, it seems! However, it is quite a stark difference from the previous Tweeter-in-chief and a refreshingly serious and calming presence. Quite productive, I must say! It appears that the mood of the country is shifting upwards, although many dangers are still lurking! Inshallah (God willing, as we say in Arabic) Upwards We Continue!
My Best, Cherished and Most Lovable Two Moments From these Past Two Weeks are what almost everyone else has been commenting about:
Bernie Sanders’ Mittens! I just LOVE this guy! And talk about an image, a moment in time that goes viral as this one has! Not only did it go viral domestically, it went across the air waves internationally! Wow!
Dr. Fauci’s Smile! The Liberated, Unshackled, Freed Scientist! That smile told me stories of a guy who kept at it, dignified, proud, sure of himself and the science enough to put up with . . . you know what! Respect! Wow!
Now it seems that everyone agrees that we are back to Normal, right? Normal is an adjective which means: Conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected . . . and after four Trump years of non-conformity, unusual, non-typical and unexpected . . . Normal is IN! It’s HIP! It’s TRENDY! It’s refreshingly, nostalgically just the right pathetically low-bar medicine for an exhausted nation, and a relief to the world.
The nation, and the world, were glued to their televisions watching the start of the Inauguration Festivities which began with a beautiful and somber evening memorial against a backdrop of red, white and blue flags fluttering, while the lights from the 400 luminaries lining both sides of the Reflection Pool came on to honor and remember the 400,000 humans taken by a lethal Virus. Just an incredibly touching and lovely scene!
The next morning and against the backdrop of a city under siege and with National Guard and Police ensuring that the bad guys stay far away, Inauguration Day presented us with the usual and comfortable display of fanfare, decorum, dignity, traditions, music, singing, poetry and speeches as politicians from both sides of the aisle joined Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama with their wives (President Carter and Rosalynn could not make it) while they greeted the incoming President Biden, his wife Jill, as well as Vice President Harris with her husband, Doug. It all went smoothly, efficiently and beautifully as I teared up all through! And yes, unusually for me as it is, that day I applauded the Glitz and Glamour! Indeed, it was Democracy on full and exultant display, and a proud moment for a battered nation. Well done, America!
President Biden promised that the United States will lead by example, which made me think of things that might seem trivial, simplistic and superficial to many, but that offer a clue as to how others emulate us. The first is the Presidential lectern with American flags as a backdrop and our President making a presentation and then responding to media questions and answers. This staging has now become standard fare all over the world from leaders of the tiniest to the biggest countries; from the democratic to the least democratic. The second are some of our laws that have become universal: LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, women’s rights, disability rights, minority rights and voting rights just to name a few. These rights are still debated and contested right here in our nation, and have not yet been adopted by all the world’s nations. However, they have inspired citizens across the world to lobby and demand them. This is huge! This is how we lead by the strength of our example, and there are hundreds of other big and small instances!
One of the the very sad and disconcerting aspects of how we lead by the example of our strength has been our behavior as a nation, especially since that fateful 9/11 whence we have been showing the world an ugly, militaristic, cruel and vengeful side of our power. In that case, our aggressive leadership, war mongering, torture and murder of innocent civilians have invited other leaders to follow that horrid example resulting in the unfathomable proliferation of arms sales across the world; occupation of other people’s lands and resources as acceptable conduct; creating mass uprooting and expulsion of citizens from their lands as inevitable collateral damage and on and on. This has not only damaged our own standing and reputation, but has caused misery to millions of people, including members of our own military who are suffering from PTSD and a sad number of suicides. This is Not a Normal that is acceptable, nor one we should aspire to go back to. So President Biden can make all the terrific speeches he would like – I have heard much oratory in my life that ended up being Words! Just Words! – but if he really wants to lead by the strength of our example, he will have to reverse that ugly manifestation of our jingoism that has poisoned international, as well as domestic relationships! Will he?
As to our foreign policy, I cannot quite tell from these first few weeks how this Administration will handle such matters. From the initial sounds of things it seems to be reaffirming that this is a Traditional Administration and it will continue to follow our Traditional Foreign Policy where nothing will change drastically from decades ago except for some cosmetic non-earth shattering enhancements! That does Not bode well for me! In fact, I was hoping for some novel approaches and creative diplomacy with which to calm and embrace the rest of the world. We’ll see!
This new chapter in our nation’s history is in the process of being written. Time will tell how it will unfold, and how the world will respond and react. There is no doubt, that I am daring to feel slightly more optimistic and hopeful! I need that. The entire Planet needs it also! Might we be able to inspire our own and other citizens, world political leadership, organizations, institutions and corporations to do what is Peaceful, Equitable and Just? Could we really and truly be leading by the strength of our example, or will it be back to leading by the example of our strength? We will all be watching, and only time will tell! Meanwhile: Inshallah!