A few thoughts on the events that transpired at the Capitol Building on Wednesday:
I think it’s important to note straight off the bat, that I absolutely DO NOT condone the rioting and violence that took place. Behavior like that is never acceptable, regardless of where it’s coming from and what the reasons and intentions for it are. I don’t think there is a single serious person who thinks that what happened in the Capitol was OK. The actions of those who took part have been condemned on the right and left and all around the world. This is one point that I think everyone is, or at least should be, in agreement on. Anything further that I write about Wednesday’s events is merely my opinion and an additional perspective and should not be taken as anything more than that – certainly not as a justification for the violence.
It would be a mistake to blame Donald Trump for what happened at the Capitol. His words and attitude certainly may have contributed and those who stormed the Capitol may have decided to justify their actions based on them but at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own actions. People read into things that they hear and see around them. People internalize whatever message that they want to. It is the people themselves that are to blame. No, not just the people who rioted and vandalized and terrorized the Capitol. It is all people who refuse to have compassion and understanding for their fellow man.
We as a society have changed. It is a change that started taking place far before Trump was elected President. Somewhere along the way, people stopped respecting each other. We stopped being able to have respectful conversations with each other. We stopped trying to reach common ground with those we disagree with. When people who disagree shut each other out, the door doesn’t just stay shut – it starts to splinter and break from the tension. Those who stand on each side become separate entities from each other with different beliefs, values and perspectives. They become their own echo chambers, with no crossover and no chance for honest and respectful debate or discussion. The tension builds and spills over. It spills over as looting and rioting in the name Black Lives Matter. It spills over into not-so peaceful protests. And now it has spilled over into riots on the Capitol Building – the seat of American legislature and government, in the name of Donald Trump. I am very sad to say that while I might be appalled by what happened at the Capitol, I am not surprised. Should America, and truthfully all free societies of the world, want to find a way to move forward and live in peace with their brothers, even those they disagree with, it is imperative that they take a long hard look at how they view each other.
For all of those who voted for Joe Biden in the name of a return to democracy, for all of those who voted Democrat out of fear for what would become of America should Trump win the election, please keep in mind that many of those who did actually vote for Trump did so for many of the same reasons. Try to keep in mind that perhaps they may be just as fearful for the future of America as you are. I’d like to think that the vast majority of those who voted for Trump are not actually the evil, villainous, racists that you may think they are. They may have different beliefs than you, they may have different priorities than you, they may actually have a different perspective on the current state of America and the world. And they are just as entitled to have those opinions as anyone else. They are entitled to be heard and valued and respected. They cannot be “cancelled” and expected to just take a back seat.
For those who voted for Donald Trump in the name of American values, family values, the Constitution – please remember that those who did not vote for Trump are not against those things. They may have different views and different beliefs about what those values are or should be and that is their right. They have their own struggles and fears and want what they feel is in the best for their families and friends. They deserve to be heard out and listened to. Find out why they might disagree with you and respect their opinions and beliefs. Maybe even find some common ground to work from.
What is happening in America now should serve as a wake-up call to us all. We are living through an incredibly tense and uncertain time. It is a breeding ground for anger and resentment. Before the powder keg explodes, we need to make a change. Start small – speak to one person who disagrees with you on one issue, and, without attacking each other, try to come to an understanding. It doesn’t mean that both parties need to agree in the end, just that you need to be able to walk away with respect for one another.
When we come out of our current pandemic state, we will need to work together to rebuild. Rebuild the economy, rebuild our workforce, rebuild the education system. Rebuild a sense of normalcy and our lives as we know them. We will all need to work together to accomplish this. There can be no real unity though, without discourse and understanding. Out of great tragedy there is room for a greater good to be born. We just need to want to get there. It is my greatest hope that we will.