Before anyone goes off thinking I’m advocating for war, please understand I am not. Ok. With that out of the way, let’s talk making peace in the United States of America, because we haven’t been this close to civil war since well, the Civil War. And forgive me if this post seems like it’s all over the place. Heavy topic.
Those on the far right have been saying the divide between right and left will never be bridged unless those on the left knock it off already. Those on the far left have said pretty much the same. There have been many a Tik Tok featuring a toothless, aging white man with a huge beard and a dirty trucker hat threatening to come for the sheeple and snowflakes for their deft thievery of the national election. It’s been super easy to laugh at the images and roll my eyes.
Then January 6 happened. As more details are emerging, the intent of the insurrection at the capitol has now been revealed to be much more sinister than many dared to believe. After all, why storm a building with zip ties unless you were planning to tie someone up and do harm?
This week, 20,000 National Guard troops have been setting up in DC ahead of the Biden/Harris inauguration. Everyone is on high alert because the toothless and those with a mouthful of chompers have been pretty open about what they hope to do with January 20. Thankfully, law enforcement appears to be actually listening.
So, where do we go from here?
I’m a history nerd and love the fact that I live in one of the 13 original colonies. I love our proximity to Washington D.C. and the fact that when we stroll the mall on a Saturday afternoon or take pictures on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial we are literally standing in the steps of history. This capital and this nation and all its stands for has its stories.
The world has seen great divides for centuries and at some point, amends have been made—sometimes freely, other times with great caution. Watching the World War II movie, Windtalkers the other day, a bigoted character in the film exclaimed disbelief that the Indigenous fellow GI he’d taunted actually saved his life, before saying the following: “Wouldn’t it be crazy maybe in 50 years we’ll be sipping beers with the Japanese?”
He spoke prophetically, did he not? The same can be said of Germany, (well prior to Trump messing things up), now one of our staunchest allies. How was peace brokered and nurtured there?
Well, one side had to surrender; one side had to admit defeat and accept it. That’s a starting point. But ideologies don’t just disappear overnight. Did Nazi ideas of racial supremacy evaporate once the Allies occupied and split the country into two? In Japan, did Emperor Hirohito cease to be a god in the eyes of his faithful when the articles of surrender were signed?
Interestingly enough, both Japan and Germany’s aggressions against the world were built on the ideas of race supremacy. To my knowledge (and I could be wrong), splinter groups in Japan embracing the ideas of their former emperor haven’t gained the footing that Neo-Nazi groups have throughout the world. As we’ve seen here in America, the flag “with the ugly spider,” as described by Gretl in The Sound of Music, is still waving—in the very nation who stormed Normandy to stomp it out.
Peace can be made in theory, but not always in action.
What will it take for the United States to truly be peaceful in action, not just in word? I wish I had answers. There are too many people entrenched in conspiracy theories, lies, and white supremacy right now. And unless you let those things go, there is no hand holding with truth tellers and people of different colors. In other words, you’ve got to get on the correct side of history in the eyes of humanity or common ground can’t be found.
You see, there are issues that go beyond the politics of running a country where compromise can’t be found. And those issues center around life and death. Racism leads to death for many Americans. As some have lamented their shock at why friendships and families have been ruined over Trump-following, I’d assert the issues of equality, justice, and the denouncement of racism and white supremacy are deal breakers. You either value all life in its diversity as on par with your own or you don’t. On issues like that, the side against that notion must capitulate or there is really no place to go.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., always chose a path of nonviolence, even when confronted with violence. All these years later, he is not wrong. Going high when others go low? That allows you to hold on to your dignity.
That said, I don’t believe in saying nothing. As Dr. King did, speak, write, and engage with others. Set people right when they are spouting wrong. Don’t shy away from the hard conversations. Have them and be firm about dispelling untruth with truth, facts, and a steady hand. Resist hysteria and lowering your standards out of anger. Stay even keeled and stay the course. I don’t know how or when or even if the nation will reach a point of peace at this point. But I do know that peace doesn’t come from standing back doing nothing.
For peace to truly win out, the method has to outweigh the madness.