Can America Heal? The Hill They Climb

In the past four years I’ve only written two blog posts about Donald Trump. The first one prior to his election and the second one after he lost the election. Don’t for one instant assume his actions during his presidency didn’t bother me. I was appalled by how he conducted himself. If I was American, I might have written more about him—I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. All I could do was hope for better for my neighbours to the south.

The division he sowed in the land of hopes and dreams will be his dreadful legacy. The insurrection of the Capital incited by his words, his actions, his bigotry, his lies, and refusal to accept defeat in a fair election will forever be what he is remembered by, along with being the only president to be impeached twice.

I’m not going to pretend division in the U.S. wasn’t already there prior to his election. It has been building for decades. However, he did take it to a new level, an unacceptable one. He didn’t do it alone. He had enablers and accomplices in the likes of McConnell, Cruz, McCarthy, Hawley, and Graham to name just a few of the Republicans who promoted Trumps alternate universe filled with lies. Sure, McConnell finally came around to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory, but the damage was already done.

In order for healing to take place it’s going to take intentionality and commitment, and not just by President Biden, whose mantra is about healing and unity. Healing will only come with the recognition from Republicans of the damage caused by Trump’s presidency. Healing will only happen if the Democrats take ownership of their contribution to the decades of partisan politics that laid the groundwork for Donald Trump’s election.

Healing will only happen when a bipartisan effort recognizes the systemic racism in America. When they recognize the inequities caused by the excesses of wealth in the hands of so few. When they recognize the dignity and equality of all people. When they recognize that healing won’t happen unless each party follows President Biden’s lead for unification, for as he says, “Not blue states, not red states, but United States.”

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was active from 2008 to 2015 to document the history and lasting impact of the Canadian residential school system on Indigenous students and their families. The hope was that the findings would allow us to acknowledge the truth of this hideous part of our country’s history, to help our country heal, to have reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. The reality is that too many of the commission’s recommendations remain unacted upon. The healing that was hoped for isn’t happening at the level many of us hoped.

Without acknowledgment and intentional attempts at reconciliation healing can never take place.

The U.S. finds itself in a similar moment in history. They must acknowledge their truth. They must all be accountable to it and want to change. Both parties must be willing to move beyond decades of partisan politics. The country must be put above politics. Can that happen?

Twenty-two-year-old Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, wrote and read, with hope, a poem, The Hill We Climb, for Joe Biden’s inauguration. Here’s a few lines,

“And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.” 

The U.S. has a challenging hill to climb. History might make us believe that America will never reach the top of that hill. Maybe they don’t, maybe they fall short. But, never the less, they need to try. Join me in hoping that my brothers and sisters to the south will work together to move up that hill.

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