There’s a storm coming, America. You might say the storm is already here, but things will only get worse, if we don’t start loving each other and listening to each other.
Like most Americans, I was appalled at what I saw this week. So much has been written about what happened in our nation’s capital on January 6, that there’s little need for me to recount those events. Unless you’ve been in a coma, living on Mars, or hiding under a rock, you saw the news coverage of what happened. And you’ve undoubtedly heard lots of opinions about it.
Whatever your political views, I have a question for you:
Do you want to save or lose the United States of America?
It’s as simple as that.
If we want to maintain an orderly, stable, and at least somewhat healthy democratic republic, then several things need to be in place, including respect for the rule of law, basic trust in our institutions and processes of government, a commitment to non-violence, acceptance of the right of all citizens (including those with whom you disagree) to participate, and the willingness for people to lose.
That last one is critical. In a democracy — and I use that term broadly (as I know we are technically a republic, but we’re still within the overall umbrella of democracy) — it’s crucial that the citizens of said democracy agree to sort out their differences peacefully and through legal processes of decision-making rather than the use of violent force.
For this reason, I condemn lawlessness and criminal behavior on the part of any protesters, regardless of their political cause or perspective. And so should all Americans — at least those Americans who care about saving the United States of America.
Once the American people give up on the peaceful means of making decisions and turn to the use of force, it’s over.
For this reason, I support the First Amendment rights of all Americans, but I condemn riots, attacks on law enforcement personnel, the destruction of property, and any criminal behavior on the part of those who have grievances with our nation, our system, or our leaders.
I believe that all those who engage in violent or unlawful actions, including those who stormed the Capitol Building this week, should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
At the same time, I oppose any and all efforts to use such episodes to curtail First Amendment rights (such as the freedom of speech), to further polarize our nation, and/or to punish those with whom we disagree or dislike.
We will never find our way out of this mess if we succumb to hate, vindictiveness, or bitterness.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Unfortunately, we are walking on shaky and treacherous ground today, because (for a variety of reasons) the American people no longer universally agree on much.
We are more divided today than at any point since the American Civil War.
And it’s not a coincidence that Confederate battle flags were flown in the nation’s Capitol Building (for the first time in history) during the unrest.
It is clear that much work needs to be done to rebuild and reestablish trust among the American people in our institutions and processes of government. And there are many difficult, complicated, and contentious issues that need to be addressed and many challenges that need to be solved.
None of this will be possible, though, if we continue to hate each other and refuse to listen to one another.
- We MUST set aside hate.
- We MUST choose to love, to forgive, and keep our hearts tender.
- We MUST banish all racism, bigotry, and prejudice from our minds.
- We MUST accept the humanity and dignity of each and every human being.
- And we MUST choose to LISTEN to one another BEFORE attacking, categorizing, ostracizing, and/or judging one another.
It’s easy to point fingers at our leaders and blame them.
And, make no mistake, I don’t see how anyone can say that this week was Donald Trump’s finest hour. His behavior since the election (including and especially his words on the morning of January 6 to the crowd that later invaded our Capitol Building) has been reckless and irresponsible (at best).
That being said, it’s too easy and never sufficient for the American people to always blame politicians, the media, and others for our problems.
We must look in the mirror. We must examine ourselves.
We must take responsibility for our own country.
If we, as individuals, don’t start loving one another and listening to one another, then it won’t matter WHO we elect as President or WHO serves in Congress, or WHAT the news media might say.
None of that will matter.
If we don’t start loving one another and listening to one another, we will be finished as a nation.
So, I ask you again…
Do you want to save or do you want to lose the United States of America?
That is the choice before us.
For my part, I love the United States and I want to keep it.
And therefore, I say to everyone in my life — whether you agree with me or disagree with me — I love you and I want to listen to you.