An 'Era of Just Redemption'

By Jessica Johnson

January 22, 2021 5 min read

I watched the Inauguration Day events in between my Zoom class sessions, fully taking in the history unfolding before the nation. Women and girls of color witnessed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, swear in Kamala Harris, the first black female and first person of South Asian ancestry to hold the office of vice president. Another young black woman's star was born on the Capitol's West Front as well. Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old Harvard graduate, became the youngest inaugural poet as she eloquently spoke to the country through her stirring prose "The Hill We Climb." The lines from her poem that particularly stood out to me were: "Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree. And no one shall make them afraid./ If we're to live up to our own time, then victory won't lie in the blade but in all the bridges we've made./ That is the promised glade."

The Scripture passage Gorman referenced is Micah 4:4, which assures that no one could make Judah afraid because "the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it." This was an excellent biblical nod by Gorman because of the scriptural symbolism in Micah and the demoralizing spiritual and political state of Jerusalem during the period of the prophet's writing, from 735 B.C. to 710 B.C. Similar to the rioting that took place at the U.S. Capitol, Jerusalem experienced a siege by the Assyrians, which was much more deadly. There was a stern rebuke by God through Micah directed to overbearing and unjust leaders who were covetous, deceitful and vindictive. Also comparable to today, people in Judah during Micah's time had lost their homes, land and livelihoods. The vine and fig tree that Gorman cited from Micah represent peace and prosperity. Micah was encouraged by his hope in God that Judah would once again be a strong nation that would, as he jubilantly affirmed in the fourth verse of his sixth chapter, "do justly" and "love mercy." This is analogous to "the promised glade" that Gorman fluently described.

Gorman expressively spoke of the inaugural day as a beginning to an "era of just redemption," but to obtain this promise, we must be willing to forgive. In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden pleaded for national unity, urging us to "hear one another" and "see one another." "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path," Biden avidly stated. As he pledged to fight for those who voted for Trump, unfortunately, many who still zealously back the former president will refuse Biden's olive branch. There are also many Biden and Harris supporters who are reluctant to forgive Republicans who have acknowledged that the 2020 election was not stolen but firmly stood in Trump's corner during the past four years. To get to the place of redemption that Gorman spoke of, the grace of God must remove the hardness in the hearts of many Americans who still refuse to treat those on the opposite side of the political aisle with respect.

Although our valued democratic process of wholesome and civil disagreement has been broken, it has not been completely dismantled. I look forward to the functioning of a strong government with both parties working together, but it is also my prayer that we move past the acrimony that has become deeply rooted in our citizenry. To reach this point, we must rely on the power of trusting in God, not the acumen of politics. Toward the end of his speech, Biden quoted the last part of the well-known Bible verse Psalm 30:5: "(W)eeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." As we know, there has been a lot of weeping in this country, a lot of agonizing suffering, but we are well able to overcome it. We just have to let our faith usher us into the morning, when we can sit down under the vine and fig tree.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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