On January 6th, I watched violent scenes unfold on Washington DC’s capitol hill on a dark episode in our history and I wept for my country.
Ironically at his “Make America Great Again” rally, Trump’s supporters were incited by his inflammatory speech as he ranted “Stolen election. A fraud. I will never leave office.” The mob stormed the Capitol, breached the police blockage, and ravaged the House and Senate while terrified US representatives donned gas masks and ducked behind chairs.
Four years under the leadership of this madman ended in this deplorable moment in our history, leaving American citizens shocked, appalled, humiliated and terrified. It degraded our image and lowered our status among other countries.
Is the world’s oldest democracy, a beacon of hope, a bastion of freedom imploding in front of our eyes?
I weep for my country. My spirit is broken. My heart is shattered.
My personal history with Washington DC makes this event even more painful. As a child I used to boast to friends that my relatives - my grandma, uncles, aunts and cousins - lived in our nation’s capitol as if that afforded me special connections.
In my twenties I called it home, when I was a player for the professional basketball team, the
Washington DC Metros, a precursor to the Washington Mystics and the WNBA.
Back then, I loved showing off “my city” to visitors, leading them on tours along the majestic National Mall past the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.
Long after I moved to Europe, DC remained imprinted in my heart - Fort Belvoir, a US Army base where we practiced, the DC Armory, the national guard training arena, where we played our games, and the Capitol Center where we toured. A kaleidoscope of memories collide warm family meals, heated basketball games, cozy jazz clubs in historic Georgetown, and landmarks of American history.
Growing up, the privilege of American citizenship has never been lost on me. I am the granddaughter of immigrants who sacrificed everything to build better lives on US soil.
Fast forward forty plus years where, as an expat in Switzerland, living in a safe neutral country, I stare at that news report as domestic terrorists, American white supremacists, scale the walls of the Capitol building and rampage after our US President ignites their insurrection by spewing lies, hatred and intolerance.
Though friends, having moved back to the States warned me about the dangerous division infiltrating my homeland, I never believed it could be that bad until I saw the events unreeling on Jan 6.
Yes we must impeach the President, imprison the perpetrators, condemn their actions, but then how do we move forward?
Where do we go from here? How do we reconcile? The world has witnessed with incredulity our values disintegrate on prime time.
How do we, as the oldest democracy, restore the pillars of our foundation — peace, liberty, equality for all — when the essence of what it means to be American has been desecrated?
Before an entire country can heal, we must begin with one person. Reach out. Get to know someone of another religion, race, culture, ethnicity and learn about their universe. What foods do they eat? What holidays do they celebrate? What language do they speak? What deities do they worship? What fears do they face of living in the USA? How can they be made to feel welcome here?
If your neighbors all look, think and act like you, read papers from another country with a neutral viewpoint from another perspective without the biased Democratic/Republican party division.
Not everyone was raised in an accepting family, or experienced firsthand cross cultural living and marriage, or teaching in an international school. I have been lucky to have met, worked with and learned about people from everywhere around the globe.
Tolerance may not be a birthright, but it can be a learned behavior.
It starts in our homes, spreads to neighborhoods, communities, crosses state lines and national borders.
Tolerance begins with the words we speak and actions we take.
In our house.
In our America.
Hi Pat. It’s hard for me to understand how half the voters wanted him back in, but I can’t conclude they’re all stupid or crazy. So I assume a lot of them are decent people who’re mistaken, and are open to giving credit to the new administration if it does anything useful and good for them. In that vein, I’m praying for a big-ass jobs program that (re)builds infrastructure, expanded medical access, and expanded / cheap wi-fi for areas that don’t have it yet.
Yes, Lynne we should never write off others holding different viewpoints from us as being crazy or stupid. We are each shaped by our family upbringing, educational background and life experience. To heal we must keep the conversation going and the lines of communication open. That is why your work as a writer is so important my friend.
So spot on again Pat.I watched the insurrection with horror, but little surprise. It was easy to see this coming to a head. I prayed on this day as much as I prayed on 9/11. It was truly an attack on our country by our own radicalized citizens. As a social studies teacher for 33 years, I can’t help but think we “failed” an entire generation about how our nation, and democracy, works. This has to be our new mantra; Words Matter, Truth Matters, Accountability Matters.
Together, we shall overcome!! Peace
Thanks Dave for adding your insights, which are especially valuable given your background as a much respected history teacher for 33 years. I am sure the events that have happened over the past few years have been especially heartbreaking for you after you dedicated your life to trying to educate our youth, so they wouldn’t make the mistakes of our past. Like my daughter says, “People need to read history books, learn about what happened before and work together to prevent it from happening again.” Great matra; Words Matter, Truth Matters, Accountability Matters.
Together, we shall overcome!! May 2021 be a better year for us all.
Pat, Beautifully expressed. It is a scary and tragic time. I don’t have a lot a faith that there will be unity and healing anytime soon, but we will all fight to restore our democracy and end demogoguery.
Thanks Nancy. It is tragic how history keeps repeating itself. I feel comforted knowing that through your valuable work as a university history professor, you are doing everything you can to education our youth on how to build a better, more tolerate, safer world for tomorrow.
Pat, we all watched on total disbelief that an angry mob incited for months by this President could wreak such destruction and desecration on the seat of our government. It makes me realize how blessed we are to live in a democracy and our efforts need to be focused on continuing to defend and preserve it. I am hopeful that in a few days we can look forward to a saner, more stable way of living though I know this threat of violence will be on going. Let’s all pray for our new President and our country that democracy will prevail.
Yes Kathy, we must move forward together. Hoping the new President will help heal our wounded souls, restore our democracy, and give us hope for a better future. May the transition on the 20th go smoothly.
Pat, your blog captured the feelings of so many of us as we watched the horrific events unfold at the U.S. capitol on Jan. 6th. The division and hate that is apparent in our country makes my heart ache. And while we are about to have new leadership that will focus on healing and unity, like you wrote in your closing words- the changes really have to start in our own homes, neighborhoods and communities. Our democracy depends on it.
Yes as we discussed many hearts were broken that day. Hoping the transition to new leadership will go peacefully tomorrow and the new team will be better for all of us as it has certainly been a very, very difficult year.
Yes Pat, you are right!
Tom from Marburg
Thanks Tom. It was so great to hear from you and I hope all is going well for you in dear Deutschland.