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  • Jerome Kocher

#1. Inauguration Ceremony

Rituals, both personal or public, are an important part of being human. We need routine or ceremony to mark our days, whether a morning coffee or an evening grace at dinner. Ritual allows us to step outside our sometimes busy lives for a respite or even remind us of the woven fabric that unites us. That happens in sports, at church and in politics.

So an Inauguration Ceremony every four years plays a vital and nourishing role to soothe our national psyche. It pulls the veil back from our separateness, even dissent, to touch the invisible and give a glimpse of our deeper bonds. January 20th, 2021, is no exception. It gave me healing relief from the raging emotions tearing us apart.

For the record, I think Joe Biden is a good person who sincerely believes in what he is saying. He’s not charismatic. He’s not dynamic. He’s not an orator. At this stage in his 48 year career he is Mr. Rogers, a grandfatherly assurance of calm and decency. If it were only Biden, we may have common ground. But the problem is that although he carries the title, he is not the President, not the executive power, not the leader of his party. In the Democrats own words, he is a “placeholder” . . . for someone or something else.

I watched the pre-inaugural events of President Trump at the White House departing on Marine One with Melania. Then at Edwards AFB with his family by his side, he addressed all of us before leaving for Mar A Lago on Air Force One. It was yet another reminder of all that he has accomplished and as he said with a sports metaphor, leaving nothing on the field. Later in Washington at noon, the voices of Garth Brooks, Lady Gaga, J Lo, and even Biden himself represented all of us. As ritual it was healing.

I felt grateful. For several brief hours, it made me even forget that Pelosi, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, The NY Times, NPR spent the whole week calling for the de-programming of all Trump supporters and to remove our individual beliefs, by force if necessary, and once and for all dissolve this traitorous cult of dissent. I temporarily forgot that Google, Twitter and Facebook had banned if not suspended accounts, that Apple eliminated conservative apps from its online store or Amazon colluded with this monopoly to erase conservative business from the cloud. For a brief three hours it made me forget that many who had supported or worked with Trump were being blacklisted, losing their jobs and livelihood.

Like all sacred rituals, it did its job of lifting me out of disquieting realities . . . before dumping me back into political realism. And phrases like “arsonists of democracy” or the “big lie” didn’t refer to a summer of riots burning down our cities or a compromised election using Covid as an excuse to bend, change or abuse election laws. No, those phrases referred to me. My behavior. My beliefs. I am now a domestic terrorist, who for the sake of democracy, must be eradicated.

If we could have an alternate poet laureate, I would prefer George Orwell, who could at least be authentic with a lyric of doublethink. But I should be grateful for what we were given, a little “bread and circus” before being thrown to the lions . . . and finding myself in the Coliseum, looking up at the Placeholder, and breathlessly waiting . . . for a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Ah! Ritual is so healing. We do not have enough of it!

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