The word on many people’s lips this week was ‘inauguration.’ And what a defining moment in American history it seems to have been. Donald Trump left the White House to be replaced by Joe Biden. The United States is divided and gripped by a pandemic that has left over 400,000 of its citizens dead. President Biden has accused Trump of a lack of focus and compassion in tackling the crisis. Only time will tell if he can make a better fist of it.
The swearing in of President Biden was a very different spectacle from previous events. Gone were the huge crowds to be replaced by a much smaller, socially distanced audience. Mask wearing was mandatory and hats off to the man who sanitised the lectern with antiseptic wipes after every speaker. He worked like a Trojan and was my unsung hero of the day. He was the one who deserved to go viral, not Bernie Sanders and those outlandish gloves.
We had a bevy of ex-presidents, J-Lo, Lady Gaga and, most bizarre of all, Garth Brooks. I had forgotten he even existed. There were speeches, laughter, tears and lot of strong words and firm promises. President Biden’s speech was heard across the world. Many regard him as a beacon of hope after the dark, narcissistic Trump era. Others regard him with fear, suspicion and even outright hatred. Whatever their views, most want the terrible scenes from Capitol Hill the previous week never to be repeated.
But what of the word itself? Inauguration. Well did you know that it’s origin dates back to Roman times when all major political decisions were made by augurs. These were soothsayers who could determine the will of the gods by observing the flight patterns of birds. I kid you not. Whether or not the most powerful army ever known went to war or not could hinge over what a flock of geese decided to do on a wet Wednesday in Rome. The Latin verb inaugurare translates as ‘to take omens from birds in flight.’
There’s a joke there about ‘a wing and a prayer’ but I won’t subject you to it. Needless to say, whatever you might think of them, I’m glad our political, scientific and medical leaders nowadays don’t rely on such tactics when making the big decisions that are needed to guide us out of the mess we are currently in. Because this virus doesn’t differentiate between blue and red or, as in Ireland, orange and green. It infects, spreads and kills indiscriminately.
So, whatever your thoughts on the inauguration and events preceding it, whether or not you think the election was fraudulent, now is the time for everyone to come together and put our differences behind us. Because that is the only way we are going to have any hope of returning to normality and leading the lives we were created to live. It’s time to look forward and not dwell on the toxic events of 2020. Even the geese in the sky know that. Thank