When I should have been writing this column, I found my eyes – which previously had quickly recovered – did not work. For many hours longer than my memory claims has normally been the case, my eyes refused to focus. There are few conditions more sleep-inducing than eyes which transmit light in patterns the brain proves incapable of organizing.
And then came the assault on the symbol of our government.
In the aftermath of 9-11 some of my opining brethren wrote that the airplane that was crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania had actually been headed for the White House. I and others were not so certain.
For one thing, the symbol I wager most of us see in our minds eye is the Capitol Building, that huge white-domed edifice from which our laws actually are birthed. The White House, which we often hear mentioned in that context, is a relatively diminutive nearby structure in which our president resides. I’d wager the Capitol Building, not the actual White House, is the structure most of us see when we think of our government’s center in Washington D.C.
Had the 9-11 attack targeted either of those buildings, but especially the one with the dome, I suspect we as a nation would have taken only hours to launch a retaliatory attack on somebody. A quote with which many of us veterans are familiar: “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.”
Yesterday, the unthinkable – outside the musings of a few fiction writers – happened. That domed symbol of the soul of our nation was attacked – by some of our own citizens, encouraged by our own president and many of our own lawmakers.
Our own lawmakers. The very people we depend on for stability, were busy debating whether to toss the results of our election. Like children who change the rules of a game according to who is winning, our lawmakers have seemed to ignore the population they have proclaimed their wish to serve. Who say there is no money to help a pandemic-stricken single mom stay in her home and feed her kids, then ease taxes and promote profits on the oligarchs and the corporations they run.
The recent occupants of both those buildings have given every indication they believe themselves to be the ones to whom the phrase refers: “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Many of us are of an age to remember when a revolutionary named Fidel Castro exhorted his followers, demonstrably downtrodden by the then-current government of Cuba, to install him as their leader. Look how that turned out.
Our nation is showing signs of age for which there are no steroids to be prescribed. Rather, we must pay more attention to preventive care. Stabbing ourselves may be distracting, but it will not cure what ails us. Nor will the issues dividing us be resolved by calling each other names – a pastime encouraged by our current leader and some of his supporters and opposers.
The question before us now and here: What are we going to do about it? Can we find a way forward, other than violence?
Because if we make the wrong choice, yesterday’s attack will happen again.
History notes the results will be progressively more painful.
Thanks for sharing the ride. I hope you enjoyed the journey. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share.