Capitol Riot: It’s Not Who We Are
By Jody Cramsie
It was a day of weeping, sorrow, horror and disbelief.
We, participants in one of the world’s great democracies, were engulfed in chaos, violence and disregard for our sacred foundational principles and values. It is not who we are supposed to be.
In a democracy, we claim to believe in the supremacy of the people to choose their leaders through the vote. Inherent in that is the assumption that some will win. Some will lose. We agree to that because we don’t know beforehand which side of the line we will land. We agree we will accept the results. When they favor us. And when they don’t. It is who we are supposed to be.
The foundational documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are remarkable. They do not bind us by common ancestry, language, class, wealth and status (Although there is a legitimate debate to be had about the specifics of that.) But rather, it was an idea – or a constellation of ideas – that bound a group of people. And those people wrote it down. That matters. It may be unique in human history. And it is to the ideas and ideals immortalized in those documents that we swear our allegiance. Within those documents there is no place for violence, or a refusal to allow agreed upon procedures to go forward, or a world of alternative facts favoring only some of the people some of the time. It is who we are supposed to be.
If ideas have merit, put them forward and fight for them within the bounds of our society. But imposing those ideas at the end of a gun or any other type of violence is not only anti-American, it is an admission that your idea is weak, perhaps meritless. It’s unpleasant, and difficult, to acknowledge that. But our system allows for you to pursue those ideas in an appropriate manner, the same manner that constrains your ideological opponents. It is who we are supposed to be.
Please. Do not burn down our – and your — country out of disappointment and anger. That is nothing but nihilism. It is volunteering to participate in a circular firing squad. It is not who we are supposed to be.
As Americans, remember who we say we are and what we say we stand for in history. We can’t just talk (or tweet or post) the talk. We have to walk the walk. We’ve done it before. We can do it again. If we want to be who we are supposed to be, it’s not optional.