Hi. It's me again. I've been away a little longer than I anticipated, but that is relatively unimportant as my reader-scope is myself and very rarely my wife. Part of me would like to report that a lot has changed since I stopped writing, and that everything is all roses and stars and lollipops or whatever, but things are more or less the same, despite the world having changed.
During the middle of the last month, we took our usual January vacation away from the cold. This particular trip was a cruise aboard the Carnival Pride into the Caribbean. The trip on the whole was a good respite from everything at home, but there were some challenges that always seem to present themselves when traveling. We did see some cool things at a couple of our ports of call, and I was able to read three whole books all while enjoying time away from "real life."
Toward the end of the journey, the literal face of our country changed as a new president was installed in Washington, DC. Surprisingly, it was not something that was easy to watch aboard ship, and while a lot of people would bemoan the inevitable change happening that day, on the actual day-of, no one around seemed to notice, care, or largely mention it. In the end, I was able to find the inaugural ceremonies played in our stateroom on the tiny and somewhat fuzzy television there. It was an unexciting series of events, but remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which being how "normal" the process is in our country.
In the days since the new president took office, there have been a number of things that have shocked, hurt, and just confused many Americans. I knew that coming into this presidency that there were two very distinct possibilities with how things would go. The first being my hope, is that the charade and posing would drop as the gravity of the role settled in, and that would lead this man to be a respectful, compassionate, driven leader that made efforts to unite the country after the last few years of unrest, and who would serve his term separate from the persona seen in the campaigns and for years prior. The alternative is that the man would not assume the yoke of the office, but would rather attempt to saddle it with his own personality, fears, desires, and ideas thus creating chaos, anxiety, separation, and even fear.
I'm not an exceptionally political person. I follow things enough to have an idea of what's going on, but I don't enjoy enrapt conversations related to the particulars of the governance as some of my peers do. I generally have a positive outlook, attempt to see the positive in situations and people (except when it comes to a half glass of beverage--that is decidedly emptied!). But right now, I don't have the capacity to see the good and the positive in these things that have happened. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm frightened myself, but I am for our country.
It was perhaps a couple of weeks ago when my wife and I were enjoying dinner. We usually keep a game on our dining table that is a collection of (sometimes) conversation-sparking questions, not unlike the "would you rather game" that many of us likely played as kids. On this particular night in recollection, a card came up that still sits in my mind: what obligation do you believe you have to your country. Obligation. That's a heavy idea in this context, implying that we are obliged regardless of context, compelled without reason, and duty bound morally to adherence. As on that night, I still don't know if I can identify obligation in this framing.
But it is some interesting food for thought.