To the editor:
Anger. Fear. Distrust. Disappointment. Frustration. Anxiety. Disgust. Many people have experienced some (or all) of these feelings over the last few days after what happened at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. And since then, of course, the whys and hows of it have dominated our news and social media, with no shortage of opinions and predictions, blaming and name-calling. Many of us would have to admit to not being completely surprised, though, by what transpired, as it seemed that something was almost certain to happen sometime with all the friction and frustration that accompanied our recent election and the past four years under Trump leadership. It was merely a question of what and when. (And now, of course, is there more to come?) I hope this will be the end of it and that our transition to a new president will be peaceful, but only time will tell.
There are still many frustrated, angry people out there, on both sides of the battlefield. Contempt and derision have been spewed from both sides for many years, and both have been guilty of violence in some situations – particularly from people on either the far right or far left. I strongly believe there are some things worth standing up for and defending, but from my viewpoint, extremism of just about any kind and an attitude of contempt for others can easily become dangerous. (A definition of contempt is that a person or thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn. In other words, those who don’t think or act or talk or look like I do are beneath me, and I owe them no respect or concern. So I can treat them however I want to.)
As we look for solutions to these problems in our country and communities, I don’t think they lie in more violence-to-get-attention, knee-jerk responses, or put-downs of those we disagree with. “We the people” do need to hold our political representatives and public servants accountable, in whatever (peaceful) ways we can, but maybe some of us should also consider making a new year’s resolution to try to better understand and respect those we don’t agree with. That can be done without compromising our own standards or integrity, and might even soften some hearts or lead to important changes. And I like this idea that one mother, feeling heavy of heart at the sorry state of our nation, came up with: to spend the next day with her kids, just doing kind things for others. We may not feel that we have a lot of power to make all the big changes we’d like to see, but we DO always have the power to be kind!