Did anyone else think it was so fitting that Cheney got wheeled out in a wheelchair at the Inauguration? Like the evil-doer finally gets his due. There has got to be some modicum of poetic justice in that.
For those of you watching it at home, you might not have known that the crowd on the Mall erupted in a volcanic roar of booing and hissing at the sight of both Cheney and Bush. It was kind of amazing. Oh, it was the sort of thing I might think to do. The sort of thing I might have done if I were watching at home. But NOT the sort of thing I would have expected 2 million other people to do. And yet, here we were, nearly two million of us, all having the same gut reaction at the same time (because it was an eruption - not a wave). Of course not all of us. And in fact, a lovely young woman from my newly adopted "Blanket Family" was kind of appalled at how rude her fellow Americans were being. I think she felt that at such an historic moment, an event that the entire world was watching, we Americans ought to behave respectfully. Or at least politely. And she was right. Maybe we should have behaved more politely.
We were surely capable of it. I mean, this was a crowd of two million people - all unfailingly kind and gentle with one another. I saw people helping one another, people greeting one another, people saying kind things to one another all throughout the long, cold, uncomfortably crowded day. There were two million people AND NOT ONE ARREST. When the Washington news reported that fact the next morning, Jeremiah said, "Well, that's because Obama is President!"
And if my 11-year-old son's logic is to be followed, then maybe the booing and hissing at Bush and Cheney was because of Bush and Cheney. For the America they created over the past eight years has not been a kind one. They were not kind to us as they stripped us of our rights and our pride. And because of them, America as a nation was not kind to other nations as we bombed and plundered and invaded for no honest reason. And we were not kind to the planet as we were encouraged to continue to consume mindlessly, in denial of the real environmental cost of our actions. And I don't think many of us liked being treated that way. Because the truth is, I think Americans are kind and generous people at heart. But for the past eight years (and maybe longer), we've been encouraged, coerced, and in some ways forced to be unkind.
Fear not, my new friend, Kaitlyn. Your fellow countrymen and women are an overwhelmingly kind and polite and well-behaving lot. You, yourself at just 14-years-old, are a fine example of that. I suspect (and hope and pray) that in the hard times ahead, as we dig ourselves out and turn ourselves around, you will witness many instances of just how kind we can be to one another and to the rest of the fine people with whom we share this spaceship Earth. Just pay attention.
And it won't be because Barack Obama is President. Surely, his leadership will encourage us to be our best selves (at least that is my fervent hope). But we chose him, we elected him, we made him our President because he so wonderfully embodies and represents what we as Americans are: inherently good people who want to do our best for ourselves and each other and the rest of the world. Maybe now with Cheney wheeled away and Bush back in Texas, America can go back to being its better self.
No more booing and hissing. Not in public anyway!