I Don’t Like the America I’m Seeing Today
This is not the piece I had intended to publish this week. I’ve been distracted by current events and the significance of anything else pales in comparison to what happened in our nation’s capital today.
January 6, 2021. The day on which Congress was charged to count the electoral votes from the November election. Objections were anticipated. No one thought it would be easy. But when I got home from work today and turned on the news, I felt as if I’d fallen into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Where am I?
Who are those people storming the United States Capital building — breaking windows, chanting hateful messages and defying our democratic process?
This is not my America.
I’m not a real political person. I cast my votes for the candidates I believe to be the most qualified and don’t put too much weight on party affiliations. I expect our leaders to lead with the greater good in mind. The images I’m seeing on television today are too much. I’ve seen similar images before, but only coming from countries that are less civilized than the supposed greatest nation in the world.
I can recall watching news reports showing civil unrest in other places across the globe. Reports that have always reminded me of how grateful I am to have born in America. It’s all the luck of the draw. I could just have easily been born anywhere else — a communist country…a country led by a dictator with little or no regard for basic human rights…a country whose government doesn’t value civil liberties.
Fortunately, I wasn’t. I was born in America and I’ve always been proud of that. I’ve studied the Constitution and believe in its interpretation. I trust the law and the justice system, even when it’s flawed. Nothing is perfect. But today is a disgrace. An embarrassment. My heart aches as I watch what’s happening in our nation’s capital, and I feel lost. I usually turn to my keyboard when I’m anxious. Writing helps me relax. It’s not only a way to express myself, but the practice itself helps me sort through my feelings.
But today I can’t settle on one emotion. They’re coming at me fast and furious — random synapses firing all at once.
Smoke grenades were deployed to clear the area as citizens of our own country trespassed upon the halls of Congress and showed their disrespect for our democracy and everything it represents.
What purpose does it serve?
And how on earth did we get here?
My intent is not to discourage free speech or assembly. I support the right to protest — peacefully.
But the people who came out today to incite chaos in hopes of making some type of statement have gone too far. I can only imagine what the rest of the world is thinking. They’re watching, and we’re the laughing-stock. No matter what you want to call them, these demonstrators, protestors or rioters have sunk to an all-time low.
Dear Rest of the World,
Please don’t confuse the actions of these irrational people to be representative of all Americans. There are plenty of us hanging our heads in shame tonight, wondering how we’re ever going to come back from this.
When I was in college, my sorority performed Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA for the rest of the student body. We were 60-women strong, standing in unison with our crisp white shirts and our black pencil skirts, each gripping a single rose and proudly holding our heads up high. I still get goosebumps when I remember that performance. The lyrics get me every time.
If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
’Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
’Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.
I’m not giving up. The American flag will always stand for freedom. Hopefully we can take away some lessons from the last few days, weeks and years. We are the United States of America. Key word: UNITED. Our county has overcome challenges before, and we’re strong enough to move past this if we can find our way back TOGETHER.
Let’s start by remembering how fortunate we are to live in this country and pray that some good comes out of all this turmoil.