This has been a really difficult week. My emotions are all over the place, mostly negative, ranging from sadness to anger to rage to despair at what we are being forced to endure by others’ incompetence (COVID) and the willful manipulation of people’s psyches (QAnon/domestic terrorism). At work Friday, I tasked myself with writing an article for my employee newsletter, talking about the events of 1/6/21 in an apolitical way, within the context of a company that has apparently decided that sending any kind of message would be too political because Washington DC is involved. My first draft follows:
We are all citizens of the world and of different countries: US, Canada, others. As citizens, we all have some measure of investment in the affairs of state; we are personally affected by laws, taxes, and the like both directly and indirectly. Laws written to regulate/improve one aspect of our society sometimes have unforeseen consequences for businesses and other groups who pass along those effects to us individually as well. Whether you are inclined to participate in or pay attention to these government decisions and their after-effects or not, you are subject to and affected by them as a living member of society.
On January 6, 2021, a relatively small group of individuals gathered in Washington, DC and other state capitol cities across the country intending to intimidate, threaten and ultimately derail the final step in our routine quadrennial election process: Congress acknowledging the votes of the electoral college. Legally, this step is a formality and has no bearing on the pending inauguration of the next president at 12 noon, on January 20. This act of insurrection was a misguided episode of trespass and violence against the very government buildings and entities that all citizens of the United States pay for and own. For many of us, this attack has been an incredibly unsettling and emotional event, occurring when we are already depleted from COVID-related losses stacking up over the last 10 months.
Acknowledging the violence that took place in Washington, DC and across the US last Wednesday should not be a political statement; our system of democratic self-governance was (and continues to be) under attack by categorical and stochastic terrorism. Whether you generally follow the news or not, the degradation of our institutions of state should be alarming. Once these institutions are effectively weakened due to lack of investment and protection, we will no longer have the same level of security, predictability or peace of mind regarding continuity of the rule of law, which most people take for granted in the nations of North America. Standing up for those processes, institutions, and the rule of law, regardless of which party is in power, is the right and responsibility of all citizens in a democracy.
In a different setting, I’m certain my words would be much harsher. That being said, I cannot yet summon them in this context either. What we are enduring is emotionally devastating and I am not immune. No one is immune. Some veer toward anger and violence in their insecure state while others turn to depression and withdrawal. We are all affected.
As I move forward with the understanding that so many others in my country, even my community, do not share my basic love and trust in humanity and are willing to act in ways that are destructive to the fabric of democracy because they feel wronged by an election where they were in the minority, my struggle will be to remain hopeful in the face of said destruction. I will make every attempt to avoid succumbing to cynicism and will stay connected with the community in what capacity I have.
Whenever possible, choose construction over destruction as the latter will eventually lead to your own demise.