Hope is irrational.
Many of us live our lives in hope of something.
Hoping to get that new job.
Hoping that our children are safe.
Hoping that we win the lottery.
But no matter how irrational hope is, we cling to it. We cling to it because sometimes, it’s the only thing we have left.
I am a practical person. And for the past twenty years, the political climate in the United States has left me rational and hopeless. Election after election, where even the shining aspirations of Black people, who sacrificed their livelihoods and their lives don’t seem to have amounted to much; and even worse, where the lowest common denominator could win and rule for four despicable and ridiculous years, have left me disappointed, yet not surprised by so much that has happened.
Once again, we, and I say we, meaning all of those who live, love, work, toil and hope in this country; we embark forward with a new president garnering new hopes and deeper levels of cynicism.
I did not watch the inauguration. I have my doubts about the new administration, regardless of how monumental and historic it may be. I have been let down far too many times to be hopeful, because of their presence.
But what I did see, what I did watch and what I did listen to was Amanda Gorman, who recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” I read the words, and listened to her recitation and I was moved. Her words were laced with hope, but not hope hinged on the presidency, the administration, congress, or other elected official. This hope hinges upon us, the people. The ones who do and should truly dictate the direction and pace of this country.
The sensation I felt listening to Amanda’s recitation, reminded me of how I felt listening to Maya Angelou recite, “On the Pulse of Morning.” It conjured up hope.
As she alluded to, we will be saved by focusing on what brings us together, not what separates us. Those things we have in common. Our sameness. Those things are not discovered through pundits, talking heads, media blitzes or sound bites. Our sameness is communicated through stories, deeds, art and beauty.
“The Hill We Climb” reaches deep and displays the best of us as a nation. Pulling up the hopes of those who built this nation, who lived and died for it, not overseas, but on these very shores; pushing for equality for all of us who have come to live here through force, choice or necessity.
I acknowledge the tendrils of hope within, regardless of how irrational or fleeting they may be. I will watch this new chapter begin. I will dip my toe in the pond of optimism and watch to see if I can lay down my disappointment, and maybe… Just maybe, be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.