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The dawn of a better America begins with each of us

| January 24, 2021 12:00 AM

Here we stand at the dawn of an American presidency that promises unity and a new path forward as a deep division remains among us. That division is no doubt more profoundly felt in conservative places like Montana and the Flathead Valley, where voters clearly signaled they wanted four more years of President Trump and are disappointed, perhaps devastated, that President Biden is now leading our country.How do we move beyond this impasse?The inauguration festivities and speeches offered some sound advice and insight worth pondering. Take, for example, the statements made by the three former U.S. presidents who attended the inauguration — two Democrats and one Republican. Former President Barack Obama stressed that we have to listen not only to people we agree with, but also those we don’t see eye-to-eye with.“We can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that as Americans we have more in common than what separates us,” Obama stated.Former President George Bush drew a paraphrase of the Golden Rule, noting that “if Americans would love their neighbors as they would like to be loved themselves, a lot of the division in our society would end.”In his inauguration speech, President Biden so rightly pointed out that “the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.” He acknowledged there is “Much to repair. Much to restore, Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain.”The take-away message from all of these leaders is that the dawn of a better America lies within each of us if we can only rise above our differences.Perhaps it takes as little as logging out of the angry rhetoric that spews on social media and instead checking on our neighbors’ wellbeing as the pandemic continues. As we’re able to get out and about again, maybe it’s time to have coffee with that person you unfriended on Facebook and listen to their viewpoints.Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first youth poet laureate, gave us words during her presentation at the inauguration that will long be remembered by many Americans. She inspired all of us to be better people, ending her poem with this deeply moving thought: “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”The search for this resolve is a story that’s been told time and time again. Even Dorothy and her famous friends, in “The Wizard of Oz,” came to realize that in the end, there was no need to chase after the all-powerful figurehead for answers. The ability to go home, or have courage, a heart and a brain is deep within us.Perhaps each of us can begin walking that yellow-brick road, from both the far left and far right sides and meet in the middle. Surely one day we will recognize there’s more that unites us than can tear us apart.