I have been struggling for the past few days to really examine my emotions and what it is I’ve been feeling since the incident at the Capitol. Poring through articles from every corner of the internet, watching both professional and ameteur video, listening to stories of people who were there or who live in another country. And I think I’ve finally pinpointed what emotion has been bringing me down. Sure, I feel anger, and sadness, and grief, and incredulity, but more than anything I feel…
I don’t think I have ever in my almost four decades of life felt this deeply disappointed in everything.
Now, I make it a point not to speak about politics. I have friends and family on both sides of the aisle, and I identify myself more as a centrist than anything else. Over the past few years it has become increasingly difficult to avoid the topic of conversation. If I don’t want to talk about it, I must disagree with you or be totally uninformed. I must not want to take a stand for what I believe in. I must be a coward.
And that would be correct. Even after I’m finished writing this and post it to my website, I won’t be discussing any of this further outside of my closest family. Because I am a coward. I’m afraid to be disappointed further.
I’m afraid that if I get involved in any heavy politics, my friends and family will no longer speak to me. That I could lose my job or at least not be valued as much. That it could impact my spouse or my children. That I will lose my precarious place in the world that I have fought so hard and for so long to be in.
But what happened at the Capitol on January 6 is no longer about politics. It may have started that way, but it speaks more to where we are not only as a country but as a species. This is a human issue.
There is a video of a woman at the Capitol being asked by a reporter what happened to her. She responds that she was maced. When asked why she was there, she responds, “We’re storming the Capitol! It’s a revolution!” You can tell that Elizabeth from Knoxville, TN truly believes this. Those on the left argue that a revolution should be for freedom and justice and that they shouldn’t have stormed the Capitol just because their favorite lost. And I agree with that 100%. That said, most of those who attended believed that’s what they were there for.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump goaded his followers into marching over to the Capitol building. While he does say, “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”, it was too late for that. He’d already whipped people into a frenzy with his words because these people are already angry.
And they’ve been angry for years.
Does that mean they were right to storm the Capitol in the way that they did? No. Absolutely not. And just as anyone who riots or destroys property should face the consequences of their actions, so should they. Even more so if they brought Molotov cocktails or bombs on the scene. This was, in fact, an act of domestic terrorism. But that doesn’t mean that they stormed the Capitol only because they were upset that Trump didn’t win.
When Trump started his campaign in 2015, most people who planned on voting for him agreed with his platform that he was not part of “the system”, that politicians didn’t like him because he wasn’t like them, that he would fight for the people and not the government, and that he would Make America Great Again. Those who have been beaten down in life and those who saw that they could profit off of this supported the Trump Train in droves, and have been a force to be reckoned with ever since. And now, they’ve been led to believe that they’ve been scammed – that their votes didn’t matter because the election was stolen from them, which as a patriot is an incredible injustice.
And they have been scammed – by Trump himself.
Regardless, they were able to storm the Capitol – some reports even say they had help from the police. Immediately there were comparisons to the BLM protests/riots earlier in the year. Whether you call it a coup/protest/riot or whatever, people were killed, things were broken, and the event that was merely a formality was thrown into the spotlight. The issue of race became an immediate topic due to the call to action or lack thereof from officials. Was it for show? Was it for real? Who expected this? Who didn’t see this coming? Who started it?
Whether you believe Trump did any good as the president in any capacity or not, it doesn’t matter here. Because of his presidency and his derisive speech and his fracturing rhetoric, we are lesser as a country.
There is more contempt for one side or the other than I’ve ever felt. Americans are so desperate to be on the “right” side of history, that we are foregoing our honor as a people to do it. There is no trying to understand the other side – for both the left and right. Families have been ripped apart over who they voted for. Equality between races felt more attainable a decade or two ago than it does now. Online arguments have posters at each other’s throats, spouting threats that nobody should have to hear.
We have all become angry, derisive, fractured people. We are all hurting in one way or another. And in a time where an aggressive virus has swept the world and we can’t just seem to catch a break, we’re finding it the hardest to be kind to those who don’t think exactly as we do.
And here’s the most disappointing part – there is absolutely no going back.
You can apologize for your words, but people will always remember the way they felt. We’ve dug this hole too deep, and unless we can somehow figure out how to get along long enough to fill it in enough to crawl out, we’ll all be subject to a cave-in.
A Biden/Harris presidency isn’t going to fix things any more than Trump’s exit will. We have to fix this for ourselves, and that’s going to take more than just a switch from 2020 to 2021.
Until then, all I can do is hope – which I’ve almost lost the ability to do. I’ll hope that people start seeing each other’s souls and try to understand one another before condemning them. I’ll hope that we can reach agreements that require both sides to give and take. I’ll hope that there can be less hurting. And lastly, I’ll hope we’ll all be less disappointed in ourselves in the future.