For some this will be a day of celebration, for others disappointment. Forty four times we have inaugurated a new President of these United States and in each instance the transition of power from one man to another has been peaceful even if not enthusiastic. It is how our government was designed to work. Today the forty fifth man will utter the Oath of Office that has been repeated so many times according the Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Those thirty five words invest an awesome responsibility into the hands of someone who is only a human being, which makes fulfilling the mandate even more difficult than any of us might ever imagine. Not everyone who has held the highest office in our land has been up to the job but in virtually every case our country has somehow muddled through even the most tempestuous times. I would like to believe that the majority of the men who sat in the White House have felt the full import of leading our country. It has been said that taking that oath is a sobering moment.
Donald J. Trump will soon be the president. He was not my choice but many of the individuals who have held that title were not the person for whom I voted. There have been twelve different heads of state in my lifetime starting with Harry Truman and ending with Barack Obama. Now Donald Trump will be a member of that very exclusive group. I honestly wish him well because if he fails we will all feel the effects of his ineptitude. For the sake of our country I pray that he will embrace his duties in a spirit of considering all of us. I want him to see his job as one of serving each and every man, woman and child without reference to party affiliation. I hope that he will rise above partisanship and that his motives in making any decisions will be based on careful consideration of what is right and just for we, the people. I wish more than anything that he will be able to set his own selfish needs aside and that he will work with humility and a realization that nothing that he does should ever be about legacy or popularity. It should always be based on the oath that he has sworn to follow with God and mankind as his witnesses.
I pray that Donald Trump will be safe from harm. Violence toward our leaders has never lead to solutions of our problems. There are proper avenues for voicing our concerns. Our system of checks and balances will function well as long as all of us remember how necessary that way of operating has always been. It will also serve us to give President Trump credit when he does something right rather than being against his every move and utterance. We have had so much of that type of behavior for such a long time and we have accomplished little more than alienating ourselves from one another. We have in many ways stagnated because of politics based more on winners and losers than what is needed for the progress and vitality of our nation. It’s time for more of the kind of profiles in courage that President John Kennedy lauded in his Pulitzer Prize winning book that told of individuals who bravely stood up for what was best for the nation.
It is difficult for me to be particularly excited about this day and yet the very fact that we are able to pass the baton of leadership from one man to another in such a peaceful manner is cause for joy. I celebrate that I have been and will be able to assert my beliefs without worry of being silenced. There are few places in the world where that is a reality. I don’t actually feel that we have to make America great again because I think that it is already one of the most wonderful places to live on the planet even with its issues. Our goal should simply be to continue to make it better and to realize that such a task is never truly complete.
We all know that there are a multitude of difficulties that we face as a nation. I’m not nearly naive or idealistic enough to believe that we will do so without major disagreements. It is virtually impossible to please everyone in a family much less a country as populated and diverse as ours. Still I desire more than anything for our leaders to demonstrate the wisdom and nobility that is needed to understand and bind our wounds. We citizens must do our parts as well by helping to dispel so much of the anger and divisiveness that has characterized our society for far too long.
There is a song in the musical Into the Woods called Children Will Listen which seems quite appropriate on this day as we watch our government at work:
How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s all white.
How do you say it will be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say, “Listen to me.”
I do not and never have pretended to know all the answers. Audacity and self-righteousness can be lethal. It is all right to admit that we may be wrong about certain things and that answers are not always as clear as we might want them to be. To tackle the issues that lie before us will require a willingness to listen to one another just as the children listen to us with an eye to remembering that what we do today will affect our little ones tomorrow. As the song says, the spell we cast may last past what we can see. Let us all pledge to encourage our leaders, especially our new president, to make choices that are in keeping with liberty and justice for all. God bless and be with the United States of America. The children will be listening.