Robin Smith / Jan. 11, 2021

Lessons Learned … or Not

Looking back at the last year, we see a disturbing picture in need of remedy.

Americans are seeking answers and not finding them. Looking to Washington, DC, for the solutions is proving to be the wrong action. Period. The violence in our nation’s capital Wednesday didn’t begin on January 6, or in 2020, or even in the last couple of years. No, to see the lesson from Wednesday’s riot in our nation’s Capitol, we must put events in context, finding resolution through seeing truth clearly.

It didn’t begin in 2020, but let’s start by looking at last year, which will be remembered for the universal events that tested Americans like few times before, primarily because of the response to a novel virus that was proving fiercely deadly in the earliest days of its transmission with no known treatments. America locked down in March and, 10 months later, some states and local areas remain limited at best and closed for business at worst. It was a one-two punch of both a health crisis and an economic crisis that hit every American in some fashion.

In May, frustrations of an already difficult situation escalated with the death of George Floyd, creating the impetus for Black Lives Matter to return to the center of the public stage. BLM led marches, protests, and, in many cases, riots and vandalism that included violence against law enforcement and birthed the “Defund the Police” movement. Americans suffered ridicule when offering sincere but “insufficient” objection to the death of minorities in police custody if they did so without wishing to join in burning and looting.

Fast-forward to January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters assembled to express the belief that there is serious need for reevaluating our current voting system. This rally escalated into an unlawful event of historic proportions, with some of these Trump supporters pushing through the Capitol’s security, resulting in weapons drawn and lives lost.

The response to this event has been directed toward silencing millions of Americans by terminating Twitter accounts, executing what appears to be a coordinated effort to destroy a free speech-based social media platform, Parler. On top of that, Democrats are pushing a racially divisive narrative around the protests instead of addressing the facts as they actually happened.

So, what lessons have we learned? Better, what lessons can we learn?

First, when enough people believe their voices to be silenced, violence may ensue. This happened with a few people in our capital last Wednesday and with many more over the summer with BLM riots.

Second, there is great distrust for institutions that were created to provide for the best interests of citizens but have been corrupted. This too can and often does escalate into lawlessness.

Third, at a time when Americans are stressed to their breaking point and overwhelming distrust prevails, Americans need unity and purpose, not power and position.

These words from the Declaration of Independence that were formerly taught in grade-school history class have special relevance in these days: “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

America’s Founders understood that each person — no matter the station or bloodline — possesses certain unalienable rights assigned at the moment of life by the Creator, not entitlements awarded by governments or states. It was also known, almost 245 years ago, that these rights had to be secured and that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

Are we learning the lesson that the greatest threat to America comes from within the warring factions in our own ranks? Or that we must forever observe the critical importance to secure the very special rights recognized and provided by America’s constitutional republic? It appears not yet.

Simply put, Americans need to rally around a point that unifies rather than divides. That’s a lot easier said than done.

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