The last two Fridays, as you may recall, have been days of celebration: the first was Christmas, followed a week later by New Year’s Day. But that’s hardly a great way to start a blog, right? I mean, those dates, and the span between them, don’t change. Still, although they’re the same year in and year out, the circumstances around them, this time, weren’t. And now, a week into 2021, one thought sticks in the collective consciousness: now what?
Our 2020 holiday wrap-ups undoubtedly looked different. Maybe you stayed home. Maybe you had an extended-family Zoom. Maybe you met up with immediate family, but remained masked. However you celebrated, we did have one thing in common: we all celebrated the fact that, for better or worse, the year 2020 was finally, blessedly, over.
In the three weeks since I’ve talked to you, things have both changed and stayed the same. We have hope on the horizon, with several drug company Covid vaccines not only available, but well into administration. We have despair on the horizon, with the fear that the supplies of those vaccines aren’t reaching vital populations. We want some semblance of our social lives back, even those of us who dreaded social interaction before.
So the “now what?” was very real. There’s always this sense of implied purpose with a new year, anyway – this feeling that you’re supposed to knock every lifetime goal out before January 31 or be labeled a loser, you know? We all wanted to get ON with it already, and fast.
The point is, Wednesday was just a day in our house – the first Wednesday of the year, but also a day that felt a little relaxed. My son was mid-way through his first week of student teaching, but learned that he would have Wednesdays at home. My daughter-in-law was also here, working on her art website. So was my husband. And, obviously, so was I.
We hadn’t had the news on during the day much, at least not in the past month or two. Things felt a little calmer, with some residual undercurrents of unease. It was the month of a new inauguration, and the parties were switching, so of course there was a general feeling of uncertainty. That’s to be expected. See, part of what makes us great is that we don’t all think alike, so talking to people who have different perspectives can be super educational. I have been proven wrong again, and again, and again in conversations like these, to the point where I went through a long time just going into basically any interaction assuming I was wrong. While I can’t say that I appreciate every disagreement, I have grown from the experience.
But I digress.
So on this Wednesday, that we had the news on, because we THOUGHT we were watching the aftermath of a dual run-off election, paired with the confirmation of the Electoral College votes. Maybe a little dramatic, probably pretty mundane, though, right?
And it did start off innocently enough, with a bit of a kerfluffle thrown up about Arizona, but we didn’t really think much of it. This had been pre-reported. While I was disappointed in our junior senator, it wasn’t the first time. I even (kind of) got it – he’s young, I thought, he’s trying to make a name for himself, undoubtedly for a future presidential bid. It’s whatever. Nothing will come of it.
I don’t remember when I realized that something more was happening. The camera broke to a speech the president was giving outside, one in which he was urging the crowd of listeners to head on down to the Capitol to protest. Acting as if he were going right along with them. Even THEN, I wasn’t alarmed. Annoyed, certainly, but not alarmed. Our current president is a reality show lead. I never expected him to be presidential, and I always expected him to exhibit a flair for the dramatic.
But then the cameras switched over again, and we saw the crowd.
In the past four years, we’ve seen a lot of demonstrations. And we’ve had a lot to protest. There has been a lot of growth, a lot of change, and a full-blown pandemic. People have been displaced, both from work and from home. Money is tight, and fear is loose. Add to that the fact that we’re human. We want to keep our health. We want to keep our jobs. And we want to keep our dreams. So a protesting crowd? Understandable.
An angry mob? At the nation’s Capitol? When everyone was inside?
It was like an alternate universe’s Designated Survivor.
I’m so glad that my family was together Wednesday, because the events that unfolded were terrifying to watch. And I hate that I hesitate to even type that, because I don’t want to upset or offend anyone. Every word feels delicate; every action feels cautious. But dammit, guys, we have to find a way to come together. We have to find a way to prove, to ourselves, to each other, that this has just been a rough time. A rebuilding. We just need to go to our respective corners, have a time out, relax and breathe, and then come back together.
I have no doubt in my mind that everyone who participated in the events of the Capitol attack believed that they were doing the right thing. And what that proves, to me anyway, is that, while we have far different ways of showing it, most of us truly love our country. While many have acted blindly out of fear, that fear was born of the perception of threat. And that threat was fed by a man who speaks outrageously and without thought, because his history lies in guaranteeing headlines.
It was wrong to damage one of our most sacred government spaces. Property was damaged, people were hurt – and people were killed. But while it’s incredibly easy to point fingers and to blame, there has never been a worse time to do so.
Now what? Now, we heal. Now, we reach out to those whom we know to be hurting, and we ask how we can help. Now, we approach damaged relationships, with family or friends, with great diplomacy. Now, we take a moment to think about how we would feel if we had lost someone, and take baby steps toward reconciliation.
Now what? We take a time-out, we scream, we kick or punch the air – and then we begin to forgive.
Now what? Now, we stand up, and we help. There are countless organizations serving the displaced and disenfranchised who could use our aid. If locating one feels overwhelming, please contact me for assistance in finding a good fit with an organization with a mission to heal our nation, and heal its citizens.
You might be one voice, but you can make a difference.
Let’s do this.