For something to become deeply held, I have to experience it first. Faith, for me, is visceral, and the minute it becomes a matter of intellect, I’m lost. So it seems with patriotism. I am left cold by the sight of an American flag hanging off a pick-up truck barreling down the road at 90 mph, but the sight of our first couple holding each other in a loving embrace leaves me in tears.
I wept on and off throughout the day yesterday, Inaugural Day, and today find myself thinking about it. Over the course of my adult life, I have at times feigned indifference to the goings-on in Washington. During the George W. Bush years, for example, I could barely say his name much less engage actively in political life. With President Obama, though, whom I admire more than any other US president for his downright decency, I am inclined to hang on his every word and to believe that, with him at the helm, the good will out.
It is this deep hope that forms the foundation of my patriotism, this sense that darkness runs backward to the corners now so that we might see our way forward to a life that honors all life.