Let me start with this… I am in no way making a political statement here. I am preserving history for myself and my children. One day, ten or twenty years from now we will talk about 2020 and the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to President Elect Joe Biden and I will want to remember the details. While the internet will be able to provide them to me…I want to remember them the way I saw them, talked about them and felt them during this absolutely insane time. I am not interested in or willing to engage in debate with anyone, largely because I do not believe social media or anything one writes can change the minds of others and that is absolutely not my intent here.
These are my thoughts. Take them as you may, they are here for me and my family and to preserve this sad history that we just experienced yesterday. I am not suggesting I am right or that I know the whole story because I do NOT believe that is possible. Sadly, we now live in a world dominated by social media and the 24 hour news cycle and we cannot believe all that we read or see. Hell, I’d argue that because of these things we don’t know the truth anymore and that is incredibly scary to me.
So to start…here is what I saw happening on my TV screen and across my newsfeed on January 6, 2020. As Congress and Vice President Pence met to count and validate the Electoral College results from November’s presidential election a crowd of protestors gathered outside. Just awhile before this started, President Trump gave a speech and said things like this to his supporters who chanted “USA” as he spoke.
“We will never give up. We will never concede. You don’t concede when there is theft involved.” President Trump.
He went on to say that a Biden Presidency would be illegitimate.
Hours later what, at first, appeared to be a peaceful protest with a collection of Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol Building; the very place they were confirming the November election results that named Joe Biden our next president.
For months the White House, namely President Trump, has been making claims that the election was illegally taken from him and alleged voter fraud happened on a wide spread level. While there has been evidence presented in the past few months (by the press) that seemed to validate this claim, the State Department has not been able to prove it, so the election results stand. It’s important to note that if you are listening to one news station they support President Trumps claims of election fraud and discuss endlessly ways to prove it, while the other new stations debunk this theory in every way possible. So that brings me back to my point, we live in a world where it is hard to know fact from fiction.
Either way…Joe Biden is our next President. Kamala Harris is our next Vice-President.
The people who gathered outside the Capitol Building yesterday held signs, flags and some even donned costumes that made them look like Vikings or the Patriots who fought and died in our Revolutionary War. These same people later started to throw bricks, water bottles and climbed walls to push their way into the Capitol Building. I can honestly say that I watched in disbelief when news of this broke. But I digress…we will get to my feelings later.
As the rioters broke into the Capitol Building past barricades and police, Vice President Mike Pence, was ushered away and the Senators put on what looked like makeshift gas masks and they too, were taken to the “safest” place they could go. In hindsight, I cannot imagine how terrified all of these people had to have been or the dark places their minds may have gone during those hours. If you have seen Designated Survivor…you know where my brain was going. I prayed something like that wasn’t possible.
Also, it’s important to note that all the people there who were security for those Senators or police officers or Secret Service agents were subjected to this terror. Disgusting and unacceptable.
While this was going on President Trump tweeted things like:
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Twitter promptly disabled his Twitter account after multiple tweets to this effect claiming the election was stolen and passively asking the rioters to go home. Twitter reported that Trumps tweets were “contributing to the risk of ongoing violence.” Today there is a lot of discussion about the concept that companies like Twitter and Facebook could have this type of influence, because, isn’t whatever Trump or anyone else says protected by free speech. The bottom line is these are private organizations so they can do as they see fit, regardless of how the public eye views it.
Reports emerged yesterday and again today that Trump was asked and denied calling in the National Guard. Of course, the National Guard was deployed but, again, reports suggest that it was Mike Pence that made that call, not President Trump.
In the end the riot was squelched and people were arrested. Sadly, four people are dead. One woman, a former service woman of the US Army was shot. The details of her death at this point are not entirely clear. Her brother in law describes her as a brave, patriot who had a deep love for her country. For the record, she was one of the people that broke into the Capitol Building.
All kinds of images and stories emerged from this madness. People dressed like Vikings sitting at Speaker Pelosi’s desk, senators hiding under their desks and images to the like. Sadly, these images of what our democracy now looks like will be forever seared into our brains and have been seen all across the world. In the moments I saw these things flash across my tv screen or news feed I couldn’t get over the thought that this was our new America and that is was a pretty scary place.
Miraculously, the Senate later returned to their chamber to finish counting the votes and it was officially determined that Joe Biden will be our next president.
Later, Trump announced he would ensure the peaceful transfer of power.
On social media, news media and in my conversations with people who I consider worldly, well educated and good I have heard many different assessments of what happened.
Some people blame Trump for all of it. Their is certainly validity in the idea that he is to blame for some of this mess. Trump is what I like to call a “shit starter” (pardon my french). He cannot shut his mouth, even for his own good. He absolutely without question incited his people with the constant rhetoric of election fraud, even after it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to prove that. So, this is certainly on his hands.
Some people blame the news media for inciting this level of violence over this issue or really the entire Trump presidency. I can’t argue with this point either. The news media used to be a place were we could go for the events happening around the world or in our neighborhoods. Now, we have 24 hour news and people tell us what we should think of the events happening around the world or in our neighborhoods. They are biased people who try to win us over to their side. There is a lot of room for error here.
Other friends argued that we should be able to listen to the stories presented and come to our own conclusions. I don’t disagree with that sentiment in principle…but we now live in a world (thanks to social media) where everyone gets a say. With all those voices in our heads it’s hard to determine what or who we believe.
Other people blame our Congressmen and women. No argument here. It’s hard to believe that two political parties made up of grown adults who both claim to love America and want what’s best for it’s people cannot find a way to compromise or get along…at all. Frankly, it’s embarrassing and to me we should have seen this coming. Our democracy is fractured in a very ugly way and while some will want to blame the whole of that on President Trump, those that really are looking at the whole picture, know that he, nor any other one person, can be wholly to blame. There are many factors at play that did not help the pre-existing problems our nation has and the biggest one is that Congress can’t play nice or get along.
As I watched all of this transpire, I prayed. I prayed for the first responders who were having to try to deal with the rioters and I prayed no one would get killed. This isn’t an unusual response for me when I see things like this going on. I felt afraid for our nation and it’s future. The “what will become of tomorrow” mentality definitely occupied my mind.
I thought about how I would explain this to my children, who thankfully don’t watch the news or have social media. But…they will hear about it and I will have to explain. How? I thought about how I would discuss this with my high school students. They do have social media and they do hear the news. It’s my job to be unbiased and listen and present facts…but we’ve already established that the facts are hard to come by.
Can I be honest with you? I also thought about how closely tied all of this is to the mentality that made me start this blog in the first place. Our society is filled with losers. Please don’t take offense, I’m not calling you a loser. But…in my experience we live in a world where people struggle to find happiness in other people’s success. We live in a world where people feel that other people’s success somehow comes at their expense. We live in a world where, rather than own our mistakes and say “that was my fault and I will do better next time” we lay blame where it doesn’t belong.
How did we not see this coming?
Maybe to some degree we did. But really, please, think about it.
Please, let me give you an example. To me the clearest examples exist in youth sports. Maybe that is because this is my life but really…look no further than youth sports. Go to any soccer field, gym or football field and you will find people sitting on the sideline criticizing and/or yelling at officials, criticizing the coach (in many cases a volunteer), talking badly about other people’s kids or worst of all, yelling at them openly. We see a win at all costs mentality in sports with kids as young as 5 and 6. It’s appalling, embarrassing and scary for many reasons (but more on that at a later time).
In recent years I have had to walk out or move away from some sporting events because it makes me so upset. Instead of congratulating the other team on a job well done or admitting they are simply better than we are, we talk negatively about members of their team or we condemn members of our own team. It’s gross and it’s why high schools across the nation are losing great coaches because it is simply not getting any better, in fact, it’s getting worse (but that’s a conversation for a different day). It’s also why kids today can’t cope or solve their own problems…because as kids, everything is someone else’s fault. We are raising (and have been for awhile) a nation of sore losers.
President Trump glorified this for our nation in the past months.
We are raising individuals that can’t fight their own battles and don’t know how to deal with adversity. News flash…life is filled with adversity…we need to equip our young with the ability to handle this and we, as a nation, are failing. The blame game is not going to give anyone happiness and it certainly isn’t going to solve anyone’s problems.
But for me…perhaps the biggest thing missing…is faith.
I don’t really care who or what you believe in…I just think it’s important to believe in something.
Mother Teresa who is among my favorite Catholic human beings ever to live on Earth said this “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
To me the family begins and ends with faith. I love the hell out of our children, but I also teach them how to be good people by using our shared faith. Simply telling them that being honest and kind is the appropriate way to live may not be enough. Our shared belief in GOD allows us to have a common ground to discuss issues like hate and racism and helps us understand why these things are inherently wrong. Our shared faith teaches us that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as we acknowledge them and ask for forgiveness.
I believe that bad behavior, especially things like hate, are learned. No baby is born hating others. They learn that hate by modeling the people in their lives.
So look what this mess yesterday is modeling for our young people. If we look closely, I think we can all agree we don’t like the lessons.
I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m scared. I’m confused. I’m uncertain…about. all. of. it.
What I am not confused about…is that we could all use a little faith in our lives. We could all try a little bit harder to celebrate other people’s awesome. We could all learn to accept what we cannot control better (I really need to work on this one), we need to stop with the blame game, because, really, where does that ever get anyone? Finally, we should all pray for our nation and our leaders. They really need it…now more than ever.
A wise woman, the wisest I know, always told me growing up, “this too, shall pass.” I will pray in the coming days and weeks with that in mind.