Praise Song for Another Day

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By Leslie Lyons

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

Seven years ago this month, Barack Obama was sworn into office escorted by the humble words of poet Elizabeth Alexander with “Praise Song for the Day.” On that day, we, the majority of the people, held hope in our hearts, expectation in our minds and promise in our step for the future of our country, for ourselves, for our children, for the world. Did a new age dawn? Did centuries of harsh humanity recede further into the past? Did we see each other?

Tonight, our President delivers his final State of the Union Address. What is on his mind?

When my daughter’s school wanted to screen Selma for the third-grade class and engage in a discussion about race, I thought “Are these our adult, generational issues to resolve? Or do the children need to begin this conversation now?” Race. Struggle. Violence.

All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Over the last seven years, we often failed to see, we failed to speak. We shot each other, fellow citizens, by the thousands. We found no truth and reconciliation for our country, for any of our transgressions, for our American-ism. If only words were like bullets.

What if the mightiest word is love? Love that casts a widening pool of light, love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

I know this: We brought our President to tears. We broke his heart.

We broke our hearts.

Praise song for another day.

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