A Step Too Far, A Cry Too Late
Photo by Flavio Gasperini - The US Capitol building, January 6th, 2021. The events on my television screen left me heartsick and speechless. The vulgar displays of insurrection provided further evidence of what happens when a complete failure of leadership runs head-on into a gross overestimation of personal entitlement.
What happened yesterday was a culmination of the brazen and irresponsible conduct of multiple individuals who, over the last several years, have either participated in or endorsed through habitual silence, acts of prejudice, violence, and lawlessness.
While it was a relief to see civility return to the halls of Congress later in the evening, I felt a certain “meh” as I listened to the parade of speeches condemning the assault on the Capital building. The longer I listened, the more I found myself wanting to ask them, “Do you understand your part in how we got to this moment?”
It is easy to decry the despot, rapist boss, or racist cop when they already have one foot out the door. However, it would have been more impactful to be incensed from the beginning by the abhorrent behavior that stretched from the attack in Charlottesville to the riots in Portland, OR.
This type of desensitized leadership is a defilement of every oath, principle, and core value that makes places like the US Capital appear sacred. History has shown us that when we succumb to the influence of venomous speech and blatant lies, a fanatical mob mentality, like the one that charged the nation’s capital, will flourish. It is unconscionable that the rage and shock expressed by many only happened after the mob was on their doorstep.
As we move forward, we should not marginalize the magnitude of what happened or what could have happened. This egregious violation of decency and do-process unscored the cost of longstanding ineffectual leadership. “Enough-is-enough” is long overdue and, frankly, too late of a denunciation to reverse the damage done. It is true, a building can be repaired, but will we or the world ever look at what that building represents the same way again?
While the behavior of those who chose to invade the US Capital is disheartening, we are undeterred by their outburst because every time we clamp down on social media trolls or refuse to feed the flames of baseless conspiracy theories, or speak out against injustice, or find new ways to support and enrich the lives of others, we demonstrate that we have more influence than those who use violence as a means of communication and engagement.
At the end of the day, that knowledge and the power it carries will always lead to a better tomorrow.