• Kayte Thomas

It's Inauguration Day - how do we heal?

Today is a truly momentous day in United States history. We as a nation stand at the precipice of change. As of today, there will be a female-identified vice president for the first time. That matters. Regardless of your political viewpoint, representation is important because it allows people to see themselves in important roles. When the new president Biden addresses Congress for the first time, there will be two women seated behind him – for the first time ever. That MATTERS. And the nation has collectively spoken to say NO another round of absurdity as we have endured for the last four year. That matters too.

I’m not big on self-disclosure, but I’ll give a little bit here: I’m not thrilled about Biden. I think that our nation could have done better. I am tired of old white men being the only option to represent us. And I am keenly aware of the impact of race, class, and gender on determining who the final candidates are when we arrive at the polls to cast our votes. This makes me angry – viscerally, genuinely, exasperatedly angry. At 38 years old, I am certain that no white man in their 70s can accurately understand my lived experience or yours….and I want better for all of us.

However, I view this election and thus this new administration as a necessary space in our collective growth. Is Biden perfect? No. Of course not. But, if you follow policy at all, you will be aware that this nation’s policies swing wildly from one pole to another. And since Trump was wildly and radically right-wing associated (he was…sorry not sorry to any readers who disagree) then the eventual opposite is a wildly left-wing swing. But, Biden is not left wing. If anything, he’s barely centrist. So why are so many people celebrating his election when he is not much more than status quo?

Great question. For starters, many who have suffered under Trump’s presidency are hopeful for relief (and yes, there are many who have suffered). Beyond that though, there is the promise of change. A quick glance at how his cabinet picks compare to both Trump’s and Obama’s administrations will tell you that this is more progressive than previous administrations. This alone is something to celebrate. Maybe Biden isn’t super progressive himself, but he has enough wherewithal to know that a diverse cabinet is representative of this nation, and that’s important for policy and decision making. Hooray!

But the question still remains – how do we heal? How we **WE**, as the collective United States of America, heal after having experienced the last four years in different ways depending on our lived experiences? This is such a hard question, because depending on who is answering….there may be a very different response as to what the hurt was. And it's important to be aware that all of the horrible things that happened under the Trump administration were already in existence in the country before he became president; he just made it more acceptable to be blatantly racist/sexist/and-every-other-ist-imaginable. This uncovered the problems that have been deeply rooted in this nation since its inception, and was an awakening for some who did not realize these dynamics existed before. For others, this was a continuation of ongoing pain and trauma. So how does a diverse nation heal from different pains after enduring a collective trauma?

Whew. I wish I had one answer for that. And while I recognize that no one answer will be acceptable for everyone – and, in my view, everyone is hurting from the last four years (even those who supported and still support Trump) – I do have a concept which may help along the journey. Isn’t that what this blog is for after all, a little guidance on the way to healing?

So there is this concept that is really great. It comes from Japanese wisdom and is a philosophical perspective called kintsukuroi. It is the essence of this perspective which is important right now. Basically, the concept means that something which is broken has more value after it is repaired because of the process through which it as healed. The notion is likened to a bowl which was broken, and then sealed back together with gold – thus being stronger and more resilient afterwards. The item is in fact more beautiful for having been broken, and subsequently repaired.

This concept honours the process of being broken. It is full of resiliency and strength and holds a fundamental belief in the power of healing. And we as a nation right now – regardless of your political perspective – are deeply broken. I am not here to judge why or how we are broken, but to provide insight as to how we can heal. And we can heal when we acknowledge that what is beyond the brokenness will be stronger than what existed before. We heal when we embrace the concept of kinstukuroi, because in that concept comes the trust that what happens after this will be better than what came before it.

And so today, quite possibly the most important day in our collective history for everyone alive in the nation right now, we must trust that what comes tomorrow will make us stronger together. We must continue believing that each day after day, until it is true. And we must accept the difficult moments which come along with this path. Because at the end of it is a better outcome for all of us.

I believe in the process. I believe in the collective power of people in the U.S. to do the difficult work needed to heal ourselves and each other. And I believe that we will be beautiful because of it. What will you do today, and in the coming days for the next four years and beyond, to ensure that we are all stronger together?

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