'A healthy anger says, 'Look, change is possible -- for both of us.'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- President Joe Biden was officially sworn into office on Wednesday. He takes over a fragile nation, whose wounds are still healing from a riot at the U.S. Capitol just two weeks before and deep divisions that date back much farther.
In an effort to discuss the pressing issues surrounding our nation, Oregon State University opened the floor to several experts Thursday evening, in an online panel titled: “Divided States of America: Sedition, the Inauguration, and the Unfolding Crisis in American Democracy.”
Inauguration Day is sometimes viewed as a non-news event, but this time it met with uncertainty. The ceremony went smoothly, but this presidential transition has been anything but. In fact, many wondered if the 46th President would be met with peace, or with violence.
Sylvester Johnson, the founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, noted this was the first time, in a long time, people had to ask those questions.
"If you had asked just about anyone a few years ago if that situation would prevail, people may have just laughed,” Johnson said.
Nevertheless, the next administration takes over as we turn the page on a new chapter in our nation's history.
Still, Christopher McKnight Nichols, an associate professor at Oregon State University, said we cannot ignore the problems of our past.
While President Biden did address some of those issues in his inauguration speech, McKnight Nichols said he did not lay out a clear path forward.
"Papering over that suggests a real problem in what a call for unity might entail, because it couldn't actually bring people together without some, say, truth and reconciliation commissions,” McKnight Nichols said. “Impeachment alone won't solve these problems. In fact, it's probably the tip of the iceberg."
So then, how do we successfully achieve change?
Joseph Orosco, a philosophy professor at OSU, said the emotion we might need at this moment is anger – but as he explained, there's a difference between healthy anger and unhealthy anger.
"Unhealthy anger says, 'You can't change and I can't change, if you are still here, so drop dead,'” Orosco said. “But a healthy anger says, 'Look, change is possible -- for both of us.'"
Only time will tell if change is in store.