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Despite the hopes and wishes of many good people, corruption is the ever-unsated addiction of big government. To govern is to engage in an endless struggle between aspiration and reality, and the amoral expediency of realpolitik always wins out in the end. Today, on Inauguration Day, that clash does not end. It continues.
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
As we transition from Trump to Biden, I am reminded of the Japanese art of Kintsugi, whereby broken pottery is repaired in a manner that venerates the shards rather than hides the cracks and missing pieces. For some who practice this form of repair, precious metals are mixed into the fine powder used to mend the shattered pottery. As such, the broken and imperfect are highlighted rather than hidden.
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
On this Inauguration Day, perhaps we begin to pick up the shattered pieces of our lives and of our nation. COVID. Partisanship. Racism. Hate. Glue back what we can. Fill in what's missing. To bind up the nation's wounds.
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
In December 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and at the ceremony, Patti Smith rendered a perfectly imperfect rendition of "A Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall." A song penned in 1962 whose lyrics still fall upon us, in 2021, like a hard rain.
Patti Smith's preternatural performance seizes the moment. She stops. She falters. Sorry. Can we start that section again? I'm so nervous. In Smith's pause, we surrender to the truth that when trying to get things right, we don't always achieve perfection. We may be overwhelmed. Still, it is in such a momentary failure that we realize our humanity. In the hard rain, we stand drenched and shivering. From here, we may yet emerge with grace and dignity. Or not.