I, like everyone I know in the USA and world, watched in horror while the US Capitol was sacked by insane people who follow Trump. The things we can learn from this are vast -- some obvious, some less so. I wanted to weigh-in on this today, not with a video but in writing, particularly for my friends, colleagues, and family around the world.
It is to them especially that I apologize for my nation. I have no authority to do this, but as someone who works internationally and has a voice -- please know that there are a majority of people in this country right now who are disgusted and mobilized to stop this kind of behavior now and in the future. We will all find out if change will happen, but as of today -- we do not want to be the country these few criminals are saying we are.
The USA is the world's biggest experiment in democracy. And as such, we have tried to allow all words in our culture to be labeled "Freedom of Speech." However, while that seemed like a good idea, allowing hate speech, words that lead to violence, unfounded conspiracy theories, and other forms of misinformation to be treated with an equal weight as anything else -- particularly where it was uncontrolled for four years by a clearly unfit president -- we ended up with the catastrophe that played out yesterday.
I agree that globally the USA should not be trusted right now as leaders of democratic messaging. However, I do think that all nations can learn from what is unfolding in that a large developed nation can still succumb to tyrannical leadership -- in part because of it's own hubris in thinking it never would fall to such things.
We in the US, the we that are normal, sane, democratic people (of all parties), want to see the freedom experiment work. We thought we were allowing it to work when Trump won the election and there was no vicious, crazy backlash to it. Democracy and freedoms of speech allow for a clearly unqualified, criminal, a-political fellow to become president. The "Joe Six Pack" commoner who could show up and do whatever they pleased because democracy says that's okay. It turns out that all isn't such a great idea after all.
I believe we have learned a hard lesson, but perhaps a lesson that needed learning. So. Here is what I think needs doing for the future of democracy in the US -- and the good news of this day in history:
1) The Democrats have control of the House, Senate, and Presidency. We are a party that wants good health and full rights for all. We are not of a mind to "get those guys" for the last four years with policies that are damaging.
2) We obviously see the disparity in how Black people (POC in general) were treated in peaceful rallies and how these racist white insurgents were treated in contrast, in real time. The hope is because this clear division in action is so clear to the US and the world that this disparity will be addressed swiftly and at great cost to those involved yesterday.
3) We MUST have people run for president that have some form of credentials. College degrees, demonstrated work in politics or public service of some kind, demonstrated no criminal or presumed criminal activity. We clearly can never allow someone like Trump to get into office again. We are a nation of stupid people and are easily persuaded. If we want to have an autocracy, then ok, let's all choose it and not have it forced upon us. But if we will continue to fight for democracy, then never again.
4) ALL of us in the USA are part of the problem. We all must at every turn denounce crazy conspiracies, stop using social media platforms that condone it, and stop spreading misinformation ourselves. While I totally love that we are still a funny people with the memes we generate even in the face of catastrophe we must be sure to denounce anything that we cannot verify that smells like it is trying to pass for truth.
5) To move forward let's all have the mantra of,"How can I make the US, my community, and the world a better place today because of my words and actions?" If your answer to this is to "take up arms" or don a horned headdress and storm the government, maybe think again.
6) If you or yours do not know how to think critically about a situation -- the first step is to question it. It is as simple as that. Think you are supremely right about something? Question it. Don't simply go online and feed a belief - look at counter arguments, read information from experts (and no, media people of any stripe are not experts, sorry). If the answer makes you feel afraid or angry about a situation unfolding in the US, likely you need more information before you act -- no matter if you believe you are on the "good" side or not because there is no good side when emotions are high (i.e., everyone is a good driver; it's the other guy who sucks).
I think in the coming days everyone will have varying ideas and feelings about what is going on. The best I can offer is that it is serious what is happening politically in the USA today. It is critical what is going on with the pandemic in the USA today.
And all of us contribute to all of it if only passively. We must not be afraid and we must channel our anger into actions that result in positively answering the question:
"How can I make the US, my community, and the world a better place today because of my words and actions?"
Don't give up on the USA just yet. We are a work in progress.
[Photo] Sad Eagle by Njameson