[OPINION] The daunting task of uniting the ‘divided states of America’ is upon us: Are we brave enough to see, be the light?

With the Washington Monument in the distance, President Joe Biden (far right) and Vice President Kamala Harris (second from left) paid tribute to the over 400,000 lives lost from the COVID-19 pandemic during a solemn ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on Tuesday night, January 19, the night before they both were sworn into office. Also in the photo are Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman (far left), and First Lady Jill Biden (second from right).

A NEW CHAPTER in America’s history has begun. From out of Donald Trump’s legacy of dividing America and sowing hatred and mistrust among our people comes the most difficult task of realizing the dream to unite us once again so we can all work together to build our country back better.

The 45th president of the United States left behind an America losing the war against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 people and counting, and an economy so devastated that has led to job losses and business closures, and that has threatened the survival of many hardworking Americans, quashing their dreams and exasperating their spirits.

Trump left behind an America that has been isolated from the rest of the free world where it used to reign as the beacon of democracy and the leader in protecting and saving the environment. He brought out the worst even among good people, leading by example in his lies, hateful rhetoric and demonization of people who look different, talk different, and pray differently, and those who do not go along his personal and political agenda that has threatened our democracy.

Trump left behind an America that has retrogressed from the leaps and bounds in progress made possible by the leadership of presidents before him who took to heart their oath of protecting and defending the Constitution and being a true public servant to the American people in this democracy.

President Joe Biden, in his inaugural speech on Wednesday, January 20, reminded us that “Democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

The 46th president of the United States said: “We must end this uncivil war” and “unity is the path forward.” Though millions did not vote for him, he vowed to be the president for ALL Americans.

“Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury,” he said. “No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.”

“We will press forward with speed and urgency,” Biden said. “For we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”

This message resonated with us Americans who voted for him, crying for help to reclaim the soul of America, daring to dream on and unite this country again.

It was the poetry read during the inauguration that truly pierced our souls, our faith, and challenged us to do our share to make this dream a reality.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Amanda Gorman — the 22-year-old black young woman who is the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate — said as the power of words had been used to divide us, she wanted to use the same power of words in poetry to help heal our nation and unite our people again.

Read “The Hill We Climb” with your eyes, heart and soul of faith and love for our country. We cannot speak for other people but we can introspect and answer these questions: “Are you brave enough to see the light? Are you brave enough to BE the light that America needs toward healing and unity?”

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
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 promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
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

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

* * *

Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

1 Comment
  1. The more you speak about racial division , the more divide America would be . Obama divided us . There would have been no black president if there was racism in America folks !! Remember that !!! You are being used by the Democratic Party .
    It all started by Obama .. so sad because it truly showed no racism in America when he got elected as first black President .
    Wake up America ! You are being used !!!!

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