By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli
On Jan. 20, 2017, a new and bold chapter began in American history. The 45th president of the United States was sworn in as the new leader of the free world. The America we knew is now radically changing course. It will take time to know if this new course is life-giving and if it truly is able to make “America Great Again.”
During his inauguration speech, Donald Trump spoke about giving the people back the power. The people responded the day after his speech by marching on Washington, D.C., over a million strong; with hundreds of thousands of voices walking/marching around the country and around the world.
Their voices spoke loudly about building bridges not walls and affordable health care for all that does not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and/or the poor. Those voices spoke about respect for women and the undocumented; for our Muslim brothers and sisters, for all people no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identification. Their voices loudly echoed concerns for civil rights and human rights.
The people heard the president’s voice; I hope that the president heard their voices and during the next hundred days responds to those important issues they spoke to on that Saturday after the inauguration.
Change is difficult no matter when it occurs. We all become very comfortable and at times complacent. The landscape of our nation is riddled with conflict and division. The rhetoric is hateful and divisive. The leadership of our nation from both sides of the aisle must come together and lead by example. The tone and language of dialogue must change. We must embrace a language that speaks of respect and integrity for every American, no matter what their social, economic or political perspective might be.
The leaders of our faith community, both locally and nationally, must move out of their coma of silence and not become political or feed the rhetoric of hate and divisiveness; rather they must stand up and call us to civility and to a discourse that supports and respects the human dignity and integrity of every American citizen.
Trump is our president, whether we like it or not. He was fairly elected. We must support the unity and healing he spoke about at his inauguration. As citizens, we must hold him accountable for what he says and what he does. He is not above the law. We must urge him to engage in a civil discourse about our complicated social issues and the future of our nation.
As this new chapter of American history unfolds, we have a powerful opportunity to engage and/or reengage in our democratic process. If you are not happy with the way things are, get involved; make a contribution; run for public office. Recognize that your voice counts and that you can make a difference in our nation and in our world.
Remember hope does not abandon us! We abandon hope! I am hopeful that if we all take responsibility for the future of our country, this new chapter in our history can make our great nation even greater!
Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.