Trauma has a unique power to either destroy or strengthen bonds.
On January 6th, 2021, the American identity experienced a form of trauma. There was a targeted attack against the United States, rooted in hatred, deception, and fascist values. Violence was attempted towards officials that represent each and every American citizen. And it failed in its direct attempt to undermine democracy.
This isn't political; it is the truth. Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Donald Trump had a right to challenge it in court. He lost repeatedly. A violent attack against the United States was then conducted to try to force reality to not be acknowledged, at least by a portion of the country. This isn't a litmus test to see just how liberal or conservative the readers of this article may be. Frankly–in this context– I don't care about your political views. However, I do care that we all are able to acknowledge facts and distinguish them from fiction.
I care that we root ourselves in being against violence towards one another. Over 600 elected officials work in the Capitol building. Hundreds of law enforcement officers find themselves there as well at various times. Is our society accepting of these people being attacked because a fragment of our society disagree with their adherence to the constitution? If this is the standard, I ask you, what prevents a mob from descending upon any of us who dare to uphold simple democratic values daily? For the time being the answer is accountability. Without accountability, these types of atrocities are only emboldened. It empowers those who wish to cause chaos to pursue chaos yet again. There is a necessity to check this behavior so that it does not spread but instead goes with resounding repercussion.
Yes, the attack on democracy carried out on January 6th, 2021, failed on January 6th, 2021. However, that's not to say we are not experiencing the aftershocks of this attack today. We can see it in the court system; we can hear it from politicians who have modeled themselves upon the same deception, fear-mongering, and manipulation that was employed in the carrying out of the January 6th attack; we can feel it as the rights people had assumed existed for years are stripped away from them. We will not be able to find relief that this attack failed until we see the final results from it.
Voyaging into the mid-term elections, this seems increasingly unlikely from some of the elected officials pursuing office. Many candidates continue to deny the results of the 2020 election, a number of candidates even pledging to impeach Joe Biden or to work to decertify the election– something that is actually not possible yet is still being used to manipulate voters. This lack of acknowledgment of reality is precisely what continues to fuel the vitriol in our country today. The use of fear to influence voters concerned with losing privilege and the lure of licensed bigotry to encourage allegiance to a party of insurrection are only means to the eventual implosion of our democracy. There is no positive conclusion to this. The only way to prevent it is to change the current trend.
My hope is that if we can all find commonality in acknowledging truth– respecting facts and rejecting fiction– that we can combat the shockwaves that will only continue coming forth. This trauma must cause our society to bond; otherwise, it may very well destroy us all.
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Myles Maxie is a Middlebury College graduate. A Southern California native, Maxie works to positively influence the communities he finds himself in to instill hope and empower those around him to advocate for change.