After you get passed how wrong it was and how it showed how far we have fallen; here’s some thoughts on the violence at the Capitol.
Where were you, when the great experiment ended? We have successfully transitioned power from administration to administration, party to party for over two hundred years. Do you really want to break that streak? As Americans, we should be proud of our heritage of non-violent government transitions as it’s exceptionally rare in the history of the world. Except for the instance of our civil war, we have never had a disagreement that wasn’t solvable or at least manageable to most people’s satisfaction. I fear that that time is over.
Violence is now the currency of our society. I say this because people on all sides of every issue feel that they are out of options. This creates desperate people willing to do violence in pursuit of their goals. The people who stormed the capitol today are angry and unable or unwilling to listen to reason. I understand being upset and angry that your guy didn’t win reelection. I understand wanting to question and understand the election results. I even understand feeling like a swindle happened. But the answer is not violence. It’s running a better candidate next time. It’s engaging with more voters and changing your messaging. It’s the soap box, THEN the ballot box, and finally, the bullet box. It’s not time for the bullet box. The bullet box is the last and worst resort. Justified in certain instances but frankly, we aren’t there. And if you’re willing to kill and harm people for your political agenda, well that’s terrorism by definition. Some might point out that terrorist and freedom fighter have very similar definitions, and generally they are labeled as such by the victor. Remember, the victor writes the history books. Your candidate may have lost this election, don’t worry, there are more in a couple years and another presidential one a couple years after that. That’s the awesome thing about our great experiment, we can’t get too far off the rails as long as everyone agrees to keep a cool head on both sides. That agreement, is failing.
I am so disappointed in the behavior and decisions that my fellow countrymen are making. I’m disappointed because it seemed inevitable to those of us paying attention to the rhetoric and discourse over the last few years on both sides. I’m disappointed in leadership not taking responsibility for their words and actions. I’m disappointed that the system both simultaneously worked and failed. While I won’t make excuses for those who occupied the capitol today I would offer a word of warning to those who despise them. Their bullets kill just as efficiently if they are right or wrong. A correct or accurate perception of events isn’t required to commit violence.
My solution is understanding and calm from both sides with a commitment to forcefully upholding our rule of law and peaceful transition of power. Both sides must come together to calm the rhetoric. Both sides must try to understand the other. Love and understanding can deliver us from this ugliness. What I say is not easy. Nothing worth doing is. But this is something worth doing, and it’s something you can do in your own life. Talk to people who you disagree with. Speak to them respectfully. Ask them questions without judgement. Suggest other sources without condescension. Don’t demand anything from them. Listen to them. Empathize with them. Love them. This will change more hearts and minds than getting angry could. And then if it ever does come time for the bullet box, you’ll rest easy at night knowing you did everything in your power to avoid violence.
Dave Chappell may have said it best, sometimes you have to be the lion to be the lamb you truly are. We must be a lion for our democracy, even if we’d rather be a lamb.
Just in case no one has told you today, I love you and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.