What happened on January 6th, 2021, two Wednesdays ago now, was a day that I think most Americans will remember for the rest of their lives.
I know I will.
I can remember exactly what I was doing at the moment I got the alert on my phone that our Nation’s Capitol Building was being stormed (working on a post CA wildfire government assessment report for a customer) by an angry mob carrying Trump and Confederate Flags throughout the halls of one of our government’s most cherished buildings and shouting for the hanging of our Vice President, Mike Pence.
The images and audio are chilling. Horrifying. Haunting. Saddening. Sickening. Everything in between.
Regardless of who you think is to blame for the violence that happened on that day (besides the obvious perpetrators who pushed their way violently past police barricades), regardless of how you feel about the incoming and outgoing Presidents, I think it’s fair to say that we have come to a dangerous precipice here in these United States of America.
My friend Rob says my superpower is being able to weave in 1980s and 1990s pop culture references in the weirdest of places.
I’m going to use that superpower today and now and reference a song from Deep Blue Something from 1994 called ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
Some of you of a ‘certain age’ will remember the song and maybe ‘remember that we both kind of liked it’ 🙂
Here’s a link to the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx1IZnCrh78 (apologies for the cringy early 90s hairdos, poppy guitar melodies, and vibe)
Reason I bring up this obscure 1990s reference is that I think Deep Blue Something’s song about a break up and trying to come to some kind of common ground with your significant other is apt for where we are right now as a Nation.
We are in desperate need of finding common ground before we come to more violence with one another.
While I am no fan of the outgoing President, I was heartened to hear some words of peace come forth from him in the aftermath of January 6th.
And while I think it was a little too late in the 4th quarter so to speak, these words of peace and non-violence were still delivered.
And for that…I’m grateful.
I have gotten alot of criticism from some of the readers of this blog and the social media sites I post to on occasion that I haven’t denounced the violence that occurred with the Black Lives Matter movement that occurred in 2020.
There seems to be a movement of sorts to redirect traffic to address BLM violence in concert with the violence at the Capitol Building.
I don’t want to spend time debating here how those two clashes with our government institutions are not exactly apples to apples comparisons in my humble opinion.
I’ll concede that, just like my American Football reference above, it could be argued that I’m also a little too late in the 4th quarter to address the BLM movement and associative movements like Antifa and some of their violent tactics.
I would say in my defense that I thought I was pretty clear in my previous posts about ANY violence not being the answer to ANY problem, but today I want to make it crystal clear that my thoughts on non-violence and peace extend to the Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements, just as much as they extend to what happened on January 6th in the U.S. Capitol Building.
I’ve referenced John Lewis, the late United States Senator from Georgia, a number of times in the last year who not only preached non-violence but LIVED it and helped others live it in the days when our black brothers and sisters were being brutalized consistently by our own law enforcement and other citizens in broad daylight and on national television pretty much daily in the 1950s and 1960s; all pre-George Floyd, and all when a large percentage of many Americans would refer to our Country as ‘Great’.
John’s approach to peaceful protests should be the model for all protests; no matter what they give to you in terms of hate, violence, unkindness, and misunderstanding, you give back love, peace, kindness, and understanding.
Think about that.
Would you be willing to walk across that bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 knowing that you might not get to the other side, knowing that you might meet the end of a police billy club forcefully brought down upon your head and still…still…as you’re receiving that blow upon multiple blow to your head…resist the urge to rise up and strike that person down in anger?
John was. John did. And thankfully, John survived that brutal police beating. Barely. Many didn’t.
And similar to Ben Kenobi who was struck down in anger in the first Star Wars movie by his former student, Annakin Skywalker (yes, Rob, my pop culture extends even beyond the 1980s), John, like the wise Jedi I imagine he was, became more powerful than the whole White Supremacist movement could possibly imagine.
So, I say all this to say to my critics, when I think of peaceful protests, I reference John Lewis and strive to follow his example.
The events of last summer with Black Lives Matter where cities were burned, people were hurt and killed, and chaos reigned in certain sections of our Country was not right. Not even close to right.
John Lewis would have been mortified. Martin Luther King, Jr., mortified. Ghandi, mortified.
Violence is not the way to get your point across. Peace and love and kindness and understanding is.
It’s always been that way. We just choose to think that we have to scream louder, we have to do louder, we have to hurt louder. But we don’t. We never have.
Some of the greatest civil rights legislation ever passed in the 1960s was brought to that same Capitol Building that was desecrated on January 6th, 2021. That legislation was passed in large measure not because of violent protests, but because the nation saw the likes of John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching non-violence at their peaceful protests.
They led by example.
We need our leaders to do the same.
We need to return to non-violent principles in our protests. We need more John Lewises in the world to help us spread this message of non-violent protest and how powerful those kinds of protests are.
I was a part of a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in June of last year. The organizers had studied the works of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi and John Lewis. I was humbled to be a part of that march through the streets of Watsonville, California.
And I will concede that there were peaceful protests on January 6th, 2021 that didn’t invade the Capitol.
But the ones that did turn violent need to be addressed.
The good news is, we can all collectively today step away from the precipice previously mentioned.
We can all stop this madness, this descent into hatred and fear as a Nation.
We can all start to rebuild; start to care for one another again. Really care.
Even if you’re an ardent supporter of the outgoing President and his policies, you can turn away from hate and fear of the other side. We are not all evil. We are not all out to get you. We are not all vicious. We are for the most part just humans just like you who want the best for our families and friends and for all beings on the planet to have a safe and peaceful life.
And yes, there are chasms in our interpretations and understanding of the world around us.
And yes, it would be nice if we could all agree on certain facts.
But, I think we both know that that agreement may not come for some time.
But…and this is a big But…we still have Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
We still have our common humanity, our common decency, our common ability to look at another human being in pain and reach out and say, I want to help you.
We’re all in pain. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Every single one.
There’s not a person on this planet that doesn’t know pain.
Can we all acknowledge this simple truth?
Can we all acknowledge that we have to find a way to help alleviate the suffering of all peoples on this planet?
Is that not our primary mission being here on this pale blue dot (thank you, Carl Sagan)? Alleviate suffering?
Isn’t that the one thing we’ve got?
Let’s build on that today and in the many days ahead.
Yes, there will be some difficult days.
You may not agree with or like the incoming President. You may feel that your outgoing President ‘got a raw deal’ and is possibly still getting a ‘raw deal’ with the Impeachment and potential trial in the Senate. You may want to strike out in anger at the other side thinking they are evil, thinking they are out to get you and your way of life in this Country.
I ask you, nay, I implore you, when you have those feelings of rage, feelings of despair, feelings of all hope lost, to invoke the image of John Lewis on that bridge in 1962 in Selma, Alabama.
Remember what it must have been like to be him, to make that walk toward death and be at peace with himself that he wouldn’t allow the other side’s anger and rage to change his peaceful response to the injustices he saw around him.
He would speak his truth peacefully, and he would do so in love.
So I close today and ask you to speak your truth peacefully and in love. Your message will resonate with a great many more people if it’s done so in that manner than in the alternative fashion.
To my critics, I hope that I may have answered some questions about where I stand on BLM and Antifa violence. I denounce it. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think resorting to violence is the answer.
The answer is love and kindness toward one another and towards all beings great and small.
We have to find a way to practice both of these things every day with one another.
It’s the one…or two…things we’ve got.
I’ll see you down at Tiffany’s.
Thanks for reading until the end, and thanks for stopping by.