I went to the grocery store this morning. That is not something I typically do on a Saturday. I always feel like finding my way through the crowd induces an angst I’d rather be without. But not today.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s coup on the Capitol, there seemed to be an unidentifiable peace in the air today. It wasn’t the kind you find in nature, sitting beside a waterfall alone. Rather, it was an undercurrent of assurance that things were going to get better. And, dare I say, a unity? People seemed to be kinder, more patient… and present. The air felt purer; somehow it was easier to breath.
As I left the store I tried to remember the last time it felt like this. It was in the days following 9/11. That was a moment in time when being American brought about a unity. We had been attacked, on multiple fronts, on our own soil. That hadn’t been done since the British stormed Washington D.C. during the War of 1812. But this time, on January 6, 2021, the terrorists were American. They weren’t from a foreign country and had somehow found their way here to wreak havoc. This time, the terrorists live among us. That instills another level of fear and anxiety that a war fought elsewhere does not. Having the FBI step into action, making arrests, and Congress moving to impeach 45, have helped those of us living within the chaos feel a little bit safer.
I imagine it is how many felt following the fall of the Third Reich. No more heinous violence. No more organized hate and disparity. Order had been restored. Or has it? Those individuals who busted out the windows of the U.S. Capitol building, stole mail and a laptop, as well as, killed a police officer, left us feeling vulnerable. Arresting them gives us a sense of regaining the law and order we once had in D.C. But it doesn’t stop the community of white supremacists who are now organized, validated, and in search of a power they were never meant to hold.
If we don’t ensure that these protagonists are jailed long-term, we may be assured that there will be a second, even stronger attempt to overthrow our government. It has made news that the social media forum Parler, has already seen a surge of additional efforts. The next is planned for the inauguration. Our situation is a serious one. If we don’t set precedence for justice now, future efforts to overthrow our government will certainly arise. And the numbers of individuals willing to attempt sedition will only grow.
Whereas I felt an eerie peacefulness earlier today, I understand that it is as much from fear as it is from hope. The future of this country teeters on what happens in the coming days. Will our government take responsibility for what has happened and make the necessary changes to ensure a safe, law-abiding society of equality? Or, will they continue business as usual while we all watch our democratic process disappear down the drain like a bad hair-dye?
We can’t return to what we were before. It wasn’t working. The rich were getting richer – unashamedly, and the poor were growing poorer – immorally. While the middle class was disappearing quickly. The change we require now is of a far greater magnitude than what we’ve needed previously. A growing portion of our society does not trust law enforcement or our government. 2021 gave us a horrific gift. Because of the pandemic, we were suddenly forced to become aware of things we would rather not know exist.
After the storming of the Capitol, no one can deny that there are two sets of rules for policing: one for people of color and one for whites. Those of us who have been in denial can be no more. It has been displayed before us as the horror film that it is. The “Nightmare in America” is every bit as grotesque as the events leading to the Holocaust. We can either choose to let it continue, or we can take back our erroneous attempt for peace and prosperity. The latter comes with a long list of accountability and ethics. Equality for all isn’t a slogan. It is a consistent commitment to moral fiber and a better life for everyone.