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Chatterbox: Breathe and move forward


Last week the fat lady sang for me and, judging from the Valentine’s Day candy at the supermarket immediately after New Year’s Day, I think she’s down for the season. With that, sustaining the holiday glow will be tough for those madly gripping their garland.

What also fades far too quickly is our holiday hiatus from all topics stinging and bitter. We can cleave unto the last bits of the seasonal calm but, all too soon, we are forced to face the acrimony again. At my house, the TV viewing moratorium on horror, war, aggression and feuding will end – and that’s just the political channels. All that angst in the air affects the flavor of my cooking.

Sadly, too, social media will, again, abandon memes of glistening trees on a snow-capped hill for the blistering scenes from Capitol Hill. Too many of us will resume our stance and return to the discourse that divides us against ourselves, fulfilling our leadership’s dreams by enabling them to continue their reign among the ruins. Don’t we all want to just force our wonderful nation to function properly? We’d all have to concede something, but so what? It won’t hurt much.

Our new year saw our new Congress sworn in. It’s a great hope for creative balance. We loudly broke some new ground, and though it may be harder for some of us to embrace, it’s always good to try something new when what’s old has become ineffective or imprudent.

Perhaps, the writers of the Constitution didn’t realize that, one day, in a land of such freedoms as they were sketching out, the verbiage of their documents would be so finitely examined or so thoroughly implemented. Or, perhaps, they were intensely aware, hugely hopeful and knew exactly what would ultimately happen. Perhaps they chose every word they used, or omitted, quite purposely and purposefully.

In any case, we now are faced with some important and justified changes to the old norm, and we find ourselves being tested. Insomuch as that America professes, lauds, and, indeed, guarantees, true freedom, we now face it squarely, more loudly than ever.

If a newly elected official doesn’t believe in the God – “in [whom] we trust” – what do we do? Though not the first person to do so, newly elected Krysten Sinema took her oath of office on a law book instead of the Bible. Indeed, others have, including our sixth President, John Quincy Adams. Though swearing in with any book is customary, it isn’t required. The book she chose instead contained the Constitution of the United States and that of her home state of Arizona. In her oath, Sinema did include “…so help me God,” even though it is believed she is an atheist.

Rare but not a first, new Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilham Omar, both Muslims, were sworn in on the Quran. The Quran is simply another religion’s version of the word of God … the same God of the Bible. Thus, Muslims, whether Sunni or Shiite, who confound and create fear in so many people, actually worship the same God that Jews and Christians do. Only the language dictates His name as Allah.

Representatives of various religions, sexuality, genders and national origin were sworn in – a true American moment. As a nation based upon freedom, we must never force, manipulate, or legislate any restrictions that impede any of those freedoms. Some Americans may not be comfortable with that, but we must all stand for all that America stands for, lest we all become victims. No real American can dispute that, but some will try.

With these new representatives, many of us believe we’re going to see some wonderful changes, which are long overdue. We understand that America can never meet her full potential until we all work for the good of all her people. Whether newcomers or dusty old suits, our representatives must work together for all the people. They must have clear goals and, even more importantly, pure motives.

With these elections a more diverse representation than ever before was voted into office. We hope that with this, long overdue, more validated, and better balanced representation, and with some new blood in office, we’ll achieve a stronger, more innovative, united, and egalitarian America.

A new year on the calendar ushers in great new hope for almost everyone. There’s no better time to start fresh, especially for a nation with the unique, intense, and incomparable eloquence, authority, leadership potential, and ability to set a positive worldwide example, such as America.