A Black preacher and a Jew are elected to the Senate from Georgia. A mob, urged on by the president of the United States, attacks the Capitol Building. And the combined Houses of Congress reconvene after the attack to certify Joe Biden as president-elect.
And us? Early in the day, we watched the peaceful transition of leadership in Georgia, as the votes were counted and the voices of the people were heard.
Later we watched in bewilderment, shock and horror as thousands protested their candidate’s loss by physically attacking Congress.
And we heard the words of Rev Barry Black, Chaplain of the Senate, when he prayed after the early morning vote to certify Mr Biden: “These tragedies have reminded us that words matter, and that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom’s price.”
We find ourselves noticing the contrasts.
The disparate treatment between yesterday’s attackers and protesters earlier this year is deeply troubling. There are reports of police posing for photos with rioters instead of arresting them. Many — including me — have wondered out loud what would have transpired yesterday if any of them were Black men. I believe the police response would have been far more aggressive, and this appalls me.
And we find ourselves noticing the similarities.
Lawmakers and their staff cowered on the floor, in closets, and under their desks while violent men roamed the halls. How many times have our children experienced this exact same fear? How many children have been traumatized, injured, and killed?
And it is not just children who are consumed by this fear. We who participate in religious services know that fear all too well.
We can only hope that our lawmakers will now understand our fear, having experienced it themselves, and take action to curb gun violence in our cities, schools, and places of worship.
The past four years under this president have been incredibly difficult for those who want to protect the environment, support women’s rights, and fight for racial justice. Others have appreciated his efforts. I might disagree with them, but I have no right to attack them. And they have no right to attack the seat of our democracy.
At the time of Trump’s election there was a peaceful march in Washington attended by hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children. In protest of his election, people donated to Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the NAACP, and other such organizations.
Equally important, perhaps even more so, were the efforts of those who engaged in the political process, either by running for office, supporting those who ran for office, canvassing, and, like the incomparable Stacey Abrams of Georgia, encouraging people to vote.
What will define us cannot be the actions of a small group of terrorists, but the work of millions of peaceful seekers of justice.
I pray that the terrible acts of our current president and his followers will never define our nation.
I pray that people of good conscience will once again rise up, as they have so many times in our past, to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
Our hands are the hands of God, and our work for justice and peace is God’s work. May we be blessed with the courage and resolve to continue to do this holy work, and provide a shining example for generations to follow.
Myrna Charry said: