Pastor’s Corner: Inauguration

January 20, 2021

I write these words with shallow breaths, almost holding my breath for what will occur tomorrow (as you read this: today, or perhaps yesterday) in Washington, DC.

Two weeks ago a mob incited by lies stormed the Capitol. Four rioters died and one police officer. Since then, federal authorities have banned most traffic through the Mall, restricted movement in other places around Capitol Hill, and brought in 20,000 members of the National Guard (including a unit from Hawai’i) to safeguard the new President and Vice-President as they take the oath of office on the west front of the Capitol.

Thanks to COVID-19, the inauguration crowd size would have been substantially reduced. As we know, other traditions of the event were already being set aside. I look upon the substantial military presence and, although I appreciate the clear and present need to protect the nation’s new Chief Executive and Deputy, I grieve at the way a peaceful transition of power gets guarded by an overwhelming show of force. It is an uncomfortable contradiction.

Most often, let’s face it, when soldiers stand around the transition of power, they are either deposing a previous government by force or maintaining a government that no longer has the support of the people. Hawai’i’s government surrendered to American military forces 128 years ago this week. Augusto Pinochet used force to seize power in Argentina in 1973. In 1972, Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed martial law to maintain power beyond the two-term limit in the Philippines.

I find some reassurance, however, that this week will see something different: soldiers protecting the transfer of power from one who was defeated at the polls to one who was elected. I hope their protection won’t be needed. I appreciate the symbolic importance of their role.

May our next inauguration be such that they can stay home in peace.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Update: The inauguration went peacefully and well.

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on January 20, 2021

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