Did you watch the U.S. presidential inauguration Wednesday?

I’m not highly political. And I do not use this space to promote whatever political views I might have. And I’m normally mostly focussed on my country, not our neighbours (but over the last few years, how can one not get somewhat caught up in what’s going on south of the border?)

But I watched the entire inauguration, spell-bound.

It seemed like a tectonic shift, not only for the U.S., but for the world. It affects us all.

Here are some of my takeaways from the event.

  1. It was peaceful, a sharp contrast to what had occurred in the same place two weeks prior. It might not have been, though, had it not been for that previous experience. (And I thought: rather have had that two weeks ago than at the inauguration.)
  2. The alternative arrangements that were made due to the covid pandemic were beautiful and appropriate, nicely filling in where the crowds would otherwise have been, at least for the TV audience.
  3. It was earie to see the streets so bare and the military presence so dominant.
  4. It felt like a radical shift in atmosphere from the pattern of the last few years, order and calmness replacing turbulence. But then, the inauguration four years ago wouldn’t have foreshadowed the turbulence that followed, either, so one should be slow to judge.
  5. The ceremony was elegant, incredibly professional, perfectly co-ordinated and carried out with pomp, pride, and magnanimity. The invited guests—Lady Gaga, J-Lo, Garth Brooks and Poet Laureate Amanda Gordan—performed with beauty, grace and appropriateness.
  6. While it may not be classed among the greatest speeches of all time, with the exception of one or two sentences, I thought President Biden’s speech was outstanding, confident, gracious, forward-looking while still bridge-building, hopeful and unifying. But can the fine words be turned into action? Can the hopes, dreams and promises be fulfilled? We can only hope.
  7. It was probably good that the outgoing president was not there. It could have been a distraction and possibly even emboldened some of his radical supporters to create havoc. While he was (justifiably) criticized for skipping it, the consequences of his presence may have been worse.
  8. I realized, personally, that I really do like pomp and ceremony. Maybe I’ve always known that; I do like Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, and I watch the trophy presentations after sports championships, as well. but, I was certainly reminded of that. I wonder how many other guys feel that way, too, even if they don’t admit it.
  9. While Kamala Harris is not the first person of colour to reach such a high office—Obama was—and a woman—Hillary Clinton–came within a whisker of achieving an even higher office than Harris, the message that came with the election of Kamala Harris to the Vice presidency, with her multiple “firsts,” that “Nothing is impossible for you to achieve!” is a message we all can be encouraged by. We’ll each apply it differently, but we can apply that resolve to whatever challenges we face. (I heard that the aforementioned Amanda Gordan has already speculated about running for president in 2036.)
  10. I wondered “If I were American, could I have had a role in this? What would it have been?” In light of point 9 above, I had to say YES. No, I’d have no ambitions for high office. But I might bask in the glory of having done something behind the scenes to make the event a success. (You and I can both speculate on what that might be.) And I could achieve that!

What are your aspirations? What ultimate goals can you achieve if you put your resolve and efforts into them?