The events in our Nation’s Capitol on January 6th hit me close to home. Not only is that building a symbol of our country’s political system, but D.C. holds a special place in my heart. My husband proposed to me standing on the West Front overlooking the National Mall. My wedding reception was in Downtown D.C. My father is a two-term U.S. Congressman and I’ve sat in both chambers of Congress many times. We still have several friends who live there and work on Capitol Hill.
My political science degree has given me a reverence for what our founders did for this country. The Capitol building is somewhat of a holy ground for me and watching the events unfold live on television literally brought me to tears.
I could write many blog posts about my thoughts and feelings about what took place that day. But what I’d like to focus on is how we have gotten to where we are as a county and how we move forward as women, as mothers, as parents, and as friends.
How We Got Here
Looking back on 2020, we saw a lot of protests, marches, and demonstrations. Thousands of people across the country were truly angry – all summer long and this week – and felt that using force against their nation, their city, their own police force and their neighbors was the only way to get their point across.
I believe the root cause of both of these acts of violence – the summer riots and the ones this week – is anger. Anger that people are not being heard. Anger that the system of governance they are told to trust in has let them down. Anger over a lack of control, both perceived and real. Anger that their country doesn’t feel like they want it to feel.
When it’s left to fester, anger breeds insurrection, destruction, hatred, and violence. And it will eventually always be brought to light.
The people that broke windows, trampled police officers, graffitied State Capitol buildings and destroyed public and private property in multiple cities this summer have a lot in common with the the people that broke windows, trampled police officers, and destroyed public and private property at the U.S. Capitol building this week.
They were all acting out of anger, disrespect, and frustration. They all felt that acting with force was the only way to get attention. But even deeper than that – they all felt that their actions were completely justified.
Let me be clear – I’m not defending what was done this week at the Capitol…or the destruction that took place over the summer. Both are illegal and wrong. I will point out, however, there were people there who did protest peacefully, as well as many of the people who walked in protest marches this summer were peaceful.
How We Get There
I hope we can agree on one thing – we would all like a future that has less violence across the board. Less school shootings, riots, bullying, vitriol on social media.
Healing from this week should come from our political leaders. They should stand up and say something like, “This isn’t how to behave as Americans.” They should be setting the standard of how to behave when you disagree with each other. Some are, but many aren’t.
Elected officials answer to their electorate (us) and they work to serve their base of support (voters). Until we change the way we speak to each other, and vote for people who do the same, nothing in DC will change. It should change from the top down, but in this case, it will have to change from the ground up.
This fire of change starts with us, moms. We’re the leaders now and we shape the future. Not the politicians, not the media, not the Instagram/Facebook influencers. You and me.
From This Point Forward
So how do we start this fire of change, you ask? I’m so glad you asked! 🙂 It starts with asking one question – why? When was the last time you genuinely, without snark, or condescending attitude, asked someone why they believe what they believe?
These days, everyone is in such a rush to prove their point, argue what they think, speak first and loudest, and show their prowess on any given issue. There is such a strong desire to look smart (or even more so to not look like an idiot), that people just start shouting their ideas as loud and as often as they can.
When was the last time you had a friend, whom you knew disagreed with you, and you asked them to share the why behind their reasoning? Or the last time you really listened instead of speaking your mind?
If we ask someone to explain their point of view, we’ll learn more about the WHY behind their thoughts, which leads to understanding, which allows us the ability to see where we AGREE with each other, leading to empathy, sympathy, and mutual respect. Granted, we may not always lead to agreement, but at least a mutual understanding and respect is way better than what we are living with these days.
Meeting in the Middle
As a county, we have lost the art of compromise. Maybe it happens in college, I’m not sure. I see my kids practicing compromise in school all the time. They openly discuss their thoughts and beliefs among kids whom they know see things differently. There is – this may come as a shock to you – mutual respect for their different points of view.
Our elected officials, and even business leaders, are not setting the example for us. Serving in Congress is a career path instead of an honor and something you do temporarily. We need to remember that Congress and the President reflect who we are as Americans. We have a representative government, after all.
So if you don’t like what’s coming out of DC or your Governor’s office, then ask yourself how you’d grade yourself on the following:
- When you see someone’s heated political post on social media, do you hide them or send them a private message politely asking why they believe what they believe?
- When you see a sign in your neighbor’s yard that you disagree with, do you avoid that neighbor so you don’t have to talk about that issue?
- When you watch, listen, or read the news, is it only your news that you already agree with or do you seek out the other side of the issue so you can have a more complete picture of what’s going on?
- When you disagree with anyone – on a show, commercial, your child’s teacher or coach, or the President of the United States, how do you voice that disagreement around your kids? What example are you setting when it comes to healthy disagreement?
- How do you treat your spouse? With contempt and a huff over your shoulder or do you give them respect and discuss points of disagreement?
I’m not pointing fingers, here. I’d fail most of the above statements. All of us can improve how we communicate with one another. Let’s start that trend and tell our city, county, state, and national elected officials that we won’t tolerate the way they treat each other any longer.
We all need to recite this phrase “I’ll meet you in the middle.” Because there is a middle ground where compromise lives. The news, tv shows, movies, music, and especially politicians want us to believe that there is a right side and a wrong side. That’s simply not true.
There is what I believe, what you believe, and then there is massive overlap of what we have in common. I truly believe that most people see the same problems in America, they just disagree on the solution.
Since social media and the 24 hour news cycle were introduced, anyone can get more hype being outlandish and loud. But working together with people happens in the shadows and it’s much quieter than being on tv.
Before we start criticizing and pointing fingers at others, let’s look at our own behavior. Spread compassion and acceptance with people who see the world differently and encourage them to do the same with what you believe.