A statement from the URI North America Leadership Council:
We join our colleagues around the United States and the world to celebrate the peaceful transition of power and the installation of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the 46th President and Vice President of the United States of America.
Sadly, 2021 started with the bitterness of partisan division fueled by lies and conspiracy theories which reflect a social unrest being felt worldwide. We hope this democratic process ushers us into a new era of political and moral courage.
Chanting a message of hope and restoration, we are reminded of the role we play in the work for a better world:
“History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect…We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.”
- Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States, Inaugural Address
We have not been called to the movement for unity with any sense of comfort or anticipation. We have been called to do something much deeper to achieve it.
The overlap of crises remains unprecedented and we cannot ignore it anymore. A pandemic remains in full swing with millions of infections and thousands of deaths. Families remain separated at our borders. Black and brown lives continue to come at risk at the hands of white supremacy and police brutality. Mother Nature mourns chooses to profit from her bounty rather than help her and our posterity thrive.
The afflictions of recent years and the collective trauma of generations past leave us wondering when the healing will begin.
We must lean into the wounds of “a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished” as Youth Laureate Amanda Groman reminds us.
The healing begins now when we make the commitment to be those healers.
The healing begins when we address inconvenient truths and an inconvenient history.
The healing begins when we are willing to fix and destroy systems that perpetuate cyclically endless oppression.
The healing begins when we restore the dignity and respect of the marginalized and the downtrodden.
The healing begins when justice is offered as a norm and a routine, not as a favor upon the privileged.
Our work in social justice might have gotten a new breath of fresh air, but it is on us to now use that new breath to jump to heights of equality and equity we’ve only dreamed of achieving.
We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show compassion and humility. “If we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes just for a moment.”
There’s never been a greater time where we have had the need to remember the Golden Rule, treating others as we want to be treated, is embodied by every one of us in theory and practice.
We are called to create a balm of true healing which can only be formed when we draw from the best in one another, together working for equity, justice and peace, learning from voices which have long been silenced.
This is when movement for unity and peace can be seen at the horizon of our democracy and achieved by a groundswell that includes all of us.
“So, while once we asked: 'How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?' Now we assert, 'How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?'”
- Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate, ‘The Hill We Climb’