Time to unite nation is now

Many Americans regarded Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden as a chance to start over, a turning away from the divisions of the past four years to move forward as one.

It is essential, however, that Americans do not choose to move forward by ignoring the lessons we learned, and the voices we heard. We cannot simply paper over the pain and frustration that provoked such intense emotion from all points on the political and cultural spectrum.

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” Biden reminded the nation during his inaugural address. “Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

He is right, of course. Disagreements should be an opportunity for us to listen to one another, to work toward compromises that lead to solutions. Biden and his friends in Congress will have to remember that, too.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris represent hope for many people. We cannot forget that for others they are a reminder of a bitter disappointment.

Those wounds will take time to heal. But that healing can be sped along if Biden is true to his word that he will fight as hard for those who did not support him as he will for those who did.

His tasks then are to work toward the recovery of our economy in a way that does not sacrifice the workers and their families who depend on industries we know will someday fade away; to work toward social justice in a way that fosters dialogue rather than further division; to work toward preserving the health of our environment without sacrificing the well being of those who live in that environment; to work toward improving education and health care in this country without making us all simply wards of the state … the list, frankly, is quite a long one.

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words and requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity,” Biden said.

We can be united in our goals without being united in our beliefs about the best way to get there. Biden knows that.

The hope here is that he never forgets it. And may he be successful in living up to his promise to be a president for all Americans.

The country as we know it depends upon that happening.


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