"Being able to see the overlap between our regular humanity and the ceremony and celebration of greatness, of great office, of great achievement, is always a moving thing. We're reminded of that in this city of monuments, monuments to human achievement that are rendered of course superhuman in their scale. We’re reminded of this on days that are full of pageantry and ceremony and displays of national power when, nevertheless, they turn out to be rendered in human scale, walking flesh and blood, when the President and First Lady get out of the car and walk the parade route themselves. We’re reminded of that overlap of human scale achievement and towering achievement on holidays like this, the federal holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today on that holiday swearing in the nation’s first African American president not for the first time but for the second time." ~Rachel Maddow
I watched this episode of Rachel Maddow (Monday's show, Inauguration Day) because a friend told me the part where Rachel tells about who made the dress and shoes for the First Lady was funny. And it's true, that part was somewhat entertaining. But the section with this quote in it was what struck me the most out of this show. I thought it was a well said summation of the excitement of Inauguration Day as well as the story of our life together as citizens and fellow humans.
We all likely have had moments where we imagined being a star, being superhuman, being extra special. The glamour, excitement, and other attraction to being someone everyone knows probably appeals to us all at some time or another.
At the same time, it is precisely the counter to that, a connection to the realness of our humanity, that attracts us to those in the spotlight. In a negative way we latch on to the stories of scandals and misappropriations because it shows us that even heroes have faults and the most respected people do stupid things. On the other hand, and in the case of the President and his family acting simply as humans and walking like we do even as they must walk in ways we don't, is something that reaches us, too, because it simultaneously tells us that all leaders are humans like us so we might have the chance to be leaders, too, and it tells us that this leader is not so different and maybe that we can allow him the chance to be human, as well, because no one is perfect.
It is moments like this that remind us that every great achievement, every great destruction, every grand effort that has come about in history has had human hands in it. We are more powerful and less powerful than we think, and moments like this help remind us of the delicacy of that balance. We have done some amazing things, and we have done some terrible things, we humans. We have great capacity for good and evil within our humanity. We must make choices every day that usually have greater reach than we will ever know. I want to hope that good will triumph and that the depth of the goodness of humanity is deeper than that of evil. But we all have to make choices that lead us beyond ourselves, so I hope we can reflect beyond ourselves and embrace the possibility of good greatness, though it is rarely an easy choice.