BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER & AUTHOR OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND
On January 6, 2021, an attempted coup (insurrection, riot…call it whatever you want except a peaceful demonstration) by Trump-inspired rioters storming the U.S. Capitol placed our democracy in grave danger. While some of the rioters donned furs, antlers, and other preposterous outfits to match the preposterous ideas and other disorder in their heads, others came with guns, bats, swords, stun guns, and flex cuffs (which are used just like handcuffs) and wore Kevlar vests. Some used American flags to spear Capitol police officers. Some came to kill or capture our democratically elected leaders. Rioters built a wooden gallows next to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, and planted pipe bombs at the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican National Committees. They shouted, “Where’s Pelosi?!…”Hang Mike Pence?!” If you go online and watch videos of the extreme violence that was committed against Capitol Police by rioters you will be (or should be if your moral compass remains intact) disgusted and outraged. More than 140 police officers were injured by the mob that stormed the Capitol. One died after being attacked by the mob; another committed suicide days later. In one chilling video, dozens of rioters attacked D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, knocked him to the ground, began beating him and electrifying him with his own Taser, and yelled, “Kill him with his own gun!!!” On that day, Officer Fanone suffered a heart attack, a concussion, and a traumatic brain injury.
Many of the rioters were fueled by lies about the election from Trump and conspiracy theories that would be laughable if they hadn’t caused people to try to overthrow our democracy. Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and military veteran, had the following to say about the attempted coup (as he called it): “On Wednesday I felt literally and real evil as the insurrection went down. It is not something that happens much, but I’ve never felt it stronger than that day.” But order was eventually restored at the Capitol.
Let’s not forget today how disinformation, hate, and lawlessness nearly shook our democratically elected government to its core last year. More importantly, we need to stay vigilant against radical Americans who seek to destroy our democracy. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or politically nonaffiliated, we must all respect the rule of law, use fact-based sources to make decisions, and re-learn how to engage with people who do not agree with us (as long as their opinions are based on facts and a genuine desire to improve the world), and simply treat each other with more love and respect.
I understand that what I’ve suggested in the current political environment is akin to asking an ant to lift a broken tree branch, but studies show that thousands of ants working together can lift 5,000 times their own body weight. Let’s be like the ants (this is probably the only time in my life that I will say that phrase) and work together to heal our country. We can ALL prosper if we work together and put hate, lies, and partisan politics aside.
The problem is that words don’t solve most problems. There are organized groups (many of whom rioted at the Capitol last January 6) that do not want to work together but simply sow discord and try to subvert democracy. We must be watchful and diligent to not let this type of evil and hate overwhelm our country. We need to meet evil with good, criminal acts with prosection and prison terms, lies and disinformation with facts, and disorder with the rule of law.
Copyright (text, except quoted material) Andrew Morkes
Copyright (photo) Shutterstock