Maybe you or a loved one has been in the hospital today – or you have had some other personal or family or business crisis that kept you from appreciating the full gravity of what was unfolding today in DC.
I got all my news today from NPR (National Public Radio) ￼and Twitter. I needed the visuals of this article tweeted from BuzzFeed. These photos made today’s events even more shocking.
Maybe you, like myself a ways back, believe that there is too much going on in your own life to have the free energy to pay attention to the bigger picture of what is going on in the world.
Almost 40 years ago, I said to my ex-wife, “We have a kid to raise. We each have jobs to go to every day. Why, oh why, are you focusing your precious energies on things that are going on thousands of miles away in Nicaragua.“
Fortunately, life intervened and got my attention. Somehow, I came across a picture album of the brutally murdered bodies of young men who had been “disappeared” in Guatemala.￼￼￼ Within 10 minutes of looking at these devastating photos, my heart opened, I wept bitterly – and I realized that “These are my people”.
Just a few weeks later, the social justice team that I was part of in our local Catholic Church asked me if I might have room in my fairly large new apartment to take in family of Guatemalan refugees.
Margarito (the dad), Maria (the mom), 6-year old Regina and￼￼ 10-year old Adolpho came to live with me.
Margarito and Maria slept on the floor in my small back bedroom and the kids slept in the big walk-in closet. For all four of them, this was quite an upgrade in their living situation.
My six months with the Martin family changed me forever – in oh-so-many good ways. Those “simple Indian peasants” from the mountains of Guatemala, who spoke not Spanish but their own native dialect, taught me a lot about how to be a better human being.￼
It’s partly because of the Martin family, and my realization that I directly bore responsibility to do something about what was going on in Guatemala – instigated by my government – that has led to me being so focused on national and world news. It no longer is possible for me to deny that what is going on on the bigger stage is also part of my responsibility.
It was months before the George Floyd murder and America‘s summer of racial reckoning, ￼when I cornered the racist guy in my apartment building who had disgustingly insulted my black roommate.
I said to him “It’s 2020, Alan – you don’t get to do these things to black people anymore.”￼￼ It was very clear that it was crucial that my friend Eric not go to jail, that the American legal system would probably treat me – as a white PhD – better than it would treat my black homeless roommate. There was no question to me that fixing this situation – holding my racist neighbor to account for his acts – needed to be my responsibility and not Eric‘s.
Perhaps no other event in my life has liberated me more than punching Alan. I don’t think I even really landed a punch – I’m pretty sure I would’ve remembered that.
But he charged me with it and I will appear in court for it. Knowing that I had probably not really ever gotten off the punch did not stop this adolescent “coward”- who had never previously been in a fight – from driving down the road the next morning , holding my fist in the air, and proudly and happily announcing “I’m a fighter!”
Seeing myself as no longer a coward has honestly changed the trajectory of my life. I trust and respect and like myself more. When some old lady in my seniors building said to me, “Well I hope you got that out of your system”, my tongue was in my cheek – and I meant it – when I winked and said to her, ‘I think the next time will be easier’.￼”
Trust me folks – when you take that first step towards a little more courage, the next step actually is easier.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to take a step around the events of today. How do you feel about the President of the United States inciting a mob to violence, and then doing nothing to quell it?
He, in person, told his white supremacist fans outside the White House this morning, “Now let’s go up to the Capitol Building.”
When they followed his orders and did exactly that – storming the Capitol and killing at least one person, the inciter-in-chief was not there with them. He was hiding somewhere behind a TV screen, writing tweets.
If you think, like I do, that Donald Trump carries personal and legal responsibility for the murder of the carnage of this afternoon – and the attempt to overthrow the US government – tell someone.
The more public the better. You could put it on social media, you could call a friend, you could call one of your legislators, you could write a letter to the editor.
If you do feel like the president should pay a price for his illegal behavior today, don’t just be upset – do something about it.
My life has been dramatically better since punching Alan.
Maybe you are already someone who routinely calls out the Alan’s of the world.￼ If not, I hope you do something today or tomorrow that moves your life more in the direction of taking responsibility for the world around you.￼￼￼￼￼
I’m here to tell you that it makes life way more exciting, way more interesting, way more satisfying – and way more fun.
Life is way too short to let it be boring.￼