Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress,
As you settle into your new responsibilities, I encourage you to prioritize the work of rebuilding. While it will be important to designate resources to convert to more efficient energy supplies, update our highways and our energy grid, and invest in the modernization of our public buildings and learning technology, the more difficult building project is much more complicated. On the heels of four years marked by a wholesale attack on policies intended to benefit the most vulnerable among us, the reign of fake news, the squandering of the nation’s global reputation, and misinformation regarding a death-dealing pandemic ravaging our communities, we need to undertake an equally urgent building project. Now is the time to rebuild trust in our country.
“Now is the time to rebuild trust in our country.”
The good news is you and your team are not the first to take on a critical rebuilding project. In the Bible, Nehemiah returns to lead his community’s rebuilding project when he learns his beloved city of Jerusalem is in a state of disrepair. A powerful intentionality exists among the workers who labor alongside Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. This ancient wall represented trust, stability, and protection for the ancient Israelites—in contrast to a modern day wall that symbolizes discrimination and intolerance. Although Sanballat and his allies mock this work in the midst of opposition, Nehemiah reports the wall was rebuilt, “for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6b).
In much the same way the opposition challenged the work of Nehemiah and those dedicated to making Jerusalem a better place to live by rebuilding, so will modern day naysayers challenge this work of rebuilding trust in the United States of America. There will be cynics and even those who will work to tear down trust as we rebuild it. Be encouraged knowing the people have a mind to work. I ask that you cast a robust and inclusive vision that is undergirded by trustworthiness and provide ways for us to join you in this work. Future generations of Americans cannot afford a prolonged history of distrust.
Ready to Join You in the Work,
Kimberly D. Russaw
Rev. Kimberly D. Russaw, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible
Christian Theological Seminary