Poetry and Democracy
‘Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with Decency & Dignity’.
President Joe Biden
History may tell that the domestic terrorism assault on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in January 2021 was the seminal moment in the rebirth of democracy in the United States as the rest of the world looked on.
The violent attack against democracy and the riot that led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol Hill also led to a needless loss of life with five deaths.
Like many I held my breath for the next fourteen days hoping and praying that the new and democratically elected President, 78-year-old Joe Biden, would make it safely back up those same steps and be sworn into office. He did just that and here in Ireland we are proud that he is also as proud of us as we are of him.
His choice of running mate and now the Vice President, Kamila Harris is truly historic for the many well-known reasons. On the day she and US President Joe Biden were inaugurated Harris tweeted:
“I have a message for all the little girls and boys out there who dream of growing up to be superheroes: Superheroes walk among us. They’re teachers, doctors, scientists, vaccine researchers – and you can grow up to be like them too.”
There has been much written about the inauguration ceremony – it had everything! Humility, inclusiveness, emotion driven performances (Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez), Republicans accepted defeat with dignity, stood up and were counted (Mike Pence, George W Bush, Garth Brooks to name but a few), a mix of gender and colour, the elite and the ordinary, and that wonderful security guy who kept cleaning the podium after every performance.
Joe Biden’s flawless acceptance speech in both clarity and content gave hope to many that a new vision for a fairer and more just society into the future will be delivered, or at least re-started, in the next four years. His first 100 days in office will surely be the supreme test of man and his new administration.
Then came Amanda S.C. Gorman, an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015. The delivery of her own poem “The Hill We Climb” made this 22-year-old Harvard graduate the face and voice of a future world that yearns to live in harmony with and respect for her fellow men and women.
For those of us who work between the Corporate world (and especially in any leadership roles) and the world of Recovery (from addictions with all its levels of complexities) there were two very promising developments in recent days:
- President Biden’s announcement that Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh and U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, were to be nominated to cabinet level positions in the new Administration. Both Walsh and Haaland are public figures who are open about their long-term recovery from substance use disorders.
During the #CongressGoesPurple observance of National Recovery Month, Congresswoman Haaland wrote on Twitter: “As someone who is in recovery, I want to offer a message of hope to anyone struggling with addiction. You are strong and you have my support.”
Mayor Walsh is a person with more than 25 years in recovery and he has been a tireless advocate for the addiction recovery community. Mayor Walsh has spoken publicly about his own journey, invested in resources to support countless Bostonians, and even established The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services. More can be found on https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/blog/2021/01/08/recovery-community-celebrates-announcements-of-marty-walsh-and-rep-deb-haaland-as-nominees-for-cabinet-level-positions-in-biden-harris-administration/
- ‘I’ll fire you on the spot’: Biden tells staff to treat others with respect. A must see video, if you have not done so already. Imagine how much more enjoyable going to work every day would be if our CEOs and all those in leadership positions set out what the expectations and attendant behaviours are around workplace cultures, boundaries and how teams are supposed to work.