It’s been a year since the events that took place at the Capitol. And like other significant events, it’s important to take some time to reflect.
I still don’t know what to really call what happened last year on Epiphany. An insurrection? A raid? A riot? An attack? Maybe the difficulty stems from the complexity of the situation. Maybe it stems from the fact that those in charge that day have not suffered any consequences as of yet. Maybe because the events struck a nerve for me and my personal history with the building and what it represents. I don’t know.
I still don’t know what to make of my observation that there are great swaths of this country that inhabit different realities where what is true is based on what benefits or harms ones ideological/partisan loyalties. This is not healthy and continuing on this path does not end well for us as a nation.
I still don’t know what to do with people who are caught up in the duality of seeing everything from an either/or, all/nothing, right/wrong standpoint.
We are a nation deeply divided with no intention on healing. An enemy foreign power couldn’t have wanted anything better for this country than how we currently are bitterly divided and at each others’ throats.
So how do we go forward? We have people who won’t acknowledge the past, let alone make an attempt at reconciliation, or seek forgiveness. Reconciliation requires an acknowledgement of wrong and a desire for change. That doesn’t exist.
So what do we do?
We can’t force someone to want what we want. We can’t force someone to see reality. We can’t force reconciliation. We can’t force people to do something they absolutely refuse to do.
All we can do is go forward.
Here’s the first thing to do to go forward – acknowledge that our identity is not our political/partisan/ideological beliefs.
Acknowledge that what happened a year ago was wrong and that people should be brought to justice, but it is not our job to do that. You and I aren’t given the responsibilities of bringing people to justice. We just aren’t. We have no control over that. We can acknowledge what happened was wrong. We can say that people should be punished. Should is the key here. We don’t get to actually do it though. It’s not our job and we aren’t entrusted with this. And that’s a good thing.
And we are called to be better. No amount of scapegoating, blaming, being angry, or anything else is going to bring resolution to what happened. None of that is going to change anyone else. It will keep a firm hold on us though and change us into angry, spite filled, untrusting, and unloving people.
Here’s something else we need – we need to mourn. We need to mourn what we have lost. Although I’m not sure we really lost anything at all. Things don’t happen in a vacuum. They build up, which means that everything that was needed for the events of Jan. 6 was already there, building up over a period of time. Maybe what we lost was the lie we told ourselves that everything was just dandy, that we weren’t like other countries, that we were special, that the capitol was somehow sacred land, that we are a united people no matter how divided it seemed, that our nation could avoid the natural cycle of civilizations, that it couldn’t happen here, etc. Mourn the loss.
And finally, decide how you proceed. Try an experiment. Say something positive and redeeming about those you disagree with on the political spectrum. Make a real concerted effort to see the image of God in them and voice what it is that you see as the image of God in them. That may not be easy. It certainly won’t be enjoyable. Exchange the executioners axe for the oil of blessing.
Take a moment to recognize what you personally will lose if we lose the other end of the spectrum. I have heard political personalities say things like “if we could just eliminate the [left/right]!!!” Things don’t happen in a vacuum. The elimination, removal, etc. of one side of the political/ideological spectrum doesn’t mean you have what you want. In fact, you’d be missing a whole lot. Think long and hard about this because if you are on the right and you vilify the left, and vice versa, you better start to understand the impact on your own life, among others, if those people disappeared. You wouldn’t have your supposed utopia. You’d have a nightmare.
You think the supply chain is a problem now, just wait until there are fewer people working in service industries. Wait until there are fewer teachers, fewer pastors, fewer inventors, fewer service members, fewer public service folks, fewer delivery people, fewer doctors and nurses, fewer sports figures, fewer artists, fewer architects, fewer farmers, fewer entrepreneurs, fewer tech people, fewer businesses, etc.
Until we start to see others of different political/ideological persuasions as human beings with equal value to ourselves because of their humanness, then don’t expect the world to get better. In the mean time, you don’t have to wait for everyone else to be better. You can start doing this today, right now. You can choose how to go forward. You can choose to see the image of God in others – especially those you really don’t like. You can choose to disagree, but still see value in others. You can choose to see that your salvation, your happiness, your wellness, is tied to others – especially others who you don’t like and disagree with. You aren’t called to like everyone. You aren’t called to just give in either. You aren’t called to weakness and being abused. You are called to love people. And that’s not easy. And often it sucks. But we are called to this because it’s what God does with us. God loves us, not because we are great people. Not because we deserve it. Not because we are in alignment with what God is up to. No, we are not different than the people we hate – yet God chooses to love us and them. And calls on us to do the same thing. To extend the same grace that has been extended to us.
We don’t have to like it. And on days like this, I struggle with it greatly. But not every day is Jan. 6. Tomorrow will be Jan. 7. And I’ll go forward. Because the alternative is not great. Because going forward is really the only option there is. Because I refuse to live a life full of anger, resentment, blame, etc. They don’t deserve it. And neither do I. And that makes it all the more special. And worthwhile to pursue.