It is Easter, and it is Spring. For those with Faith a time of optimistic renewal when hope rises from suffering. For those for whom the natural world is a greater inspiration than the gospels a time when green shoots begin to appear and the birds start to build their nests. You don’t nest if you’re a pessimist, you don’t not have hope either.
For Easter I received “The Hill We Climb”, the poem read by the young poet Amanda Gorman at Joe Biden’s inauguration. It’s an astonishing , optimistic work. It is driven, I think, by a confident belief that good can triumph over evil.
Winter is not evil, but it can be a struggle. Spring is in the air and the days are lighter and warmer. The robin in her nest is busy but her call is also a warning. Take nothing for granted. Don’t cast a clout for yet awhile.
We are impatient, that is not a sin. We want the leaves to return in all their verdant glory. But we know, how vividly last year taught us to know, that as never before uncertainty is still in the air.
The young Miss Gorman was celebrating political change not because her side won but because all Americans won. As Oprah Winfrey put it in her Foreword “A nation, “bruised but whole” climbed up off her knees.”
Can we learn not to be binary? Can we learn to rely not on the ephemera of sentiment and flags but on belief in the common good ? Can we even agree what the “common good” is ? Can we also try to “compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man” or will that task be beyond us? Again.
Ultimately what it takes is leadership. Someone who can turn the green shoots and the hope into action. In our homeland, as much as in Joe Biden’s America, there is a need to “rebuild, reconcile and recover”. Or will strident divisiveness stifle the hope and the new bright leaves wither and die?
I believe we are at a crossroads. We seem full of notions about what we are against (though we disagree) but can we agree what we are for? Is there more that unites us than divides us or is that a forlorn hope to be drowned out by cries of WOKE when we try to express them?
My Easter and springtime wish is to draw a line as America has drawn a line. Can we also see ourselves as a “nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.” The problem with the “glorious past” can be if we believe that it didn’t really ultimately lead anywhere. Can we still be accused of having lost an Empire but not found a role? Is there any doubt at all that we can?
So bruised Britain’s need for rebuilding and reconciliation is no less than America’s – and just as great a challenge. To look at the blue skies and green leaves and hear the robin’s call on of a bright Spring day should make me optimistic that we can rebuild. But can we? Can we?