DEAR READERS: It is January 6th again, a day that felt like it was stolen from all of us.
My eldest niece was born on that day years ago, so it used to be a moment for sweet celebration in my family, the beginning of the next generation. I remember when we first got word of the attack on the United States Capitol building two years ago and my niece was fuming for all the reasons, including that her birthday would never be hers again.
I do not typically use this space to address political issues. I am addressing this now, though, because it is more than that. It is a national issue, a small-D democratic issue (not related to the political party). We came so close to the dissolution of order, structure and truth on that fateful day that it is wise for us to pause for a moment and reflect on what we value.
I always thought that the beauty of our experiment in democracy in this country is that we civilly agree to disagree. We follow the guidelines created for a peaceful transfer of power even when “our candidate” loses the election. America has served as the example of how to push past disagreements — no matter how ferocious they are — with honor and integrity. Our system has been heralded for the ways in which we work together, even when we don’t like each other.
All of that came tumbling down on Jan. 6 two years ago. We must remember so that we do not repeat this hateful action in the future. While our country is surely flawed, it has enough positive qualities for us to build on. Foundationally, we must respect each other and agree to disagree amicably, even if we have to get loud. We must be able to stand and shout and agitate toward change, but not to the peril of others, and surely not when the agitation is based on a lie. We have to be vigilant about discovering the truth and sharing it with one another, and determining how to move forward when frictions abound.
What’s key here for all of us to recognize is that each of us serves a role in this. Think about your own life. How do you handle conflicts? What do you do when decisions have been made that you don’t like — at work, in your family, in your community? Do you ignore agreements that you don’t care for? Do you “go rogue” and do whatever you want? Do you agitate for change within the system? What do you do?
I ask these questions with all sincerity. How you live your life and manage the challenges that you face has everything to do with how our country functions. Do you behave in a democratic way when dealing with conflict? How often do you negotiate with others?
When do you put your stake in the ground and not budge? What happens when your behavior is unreasonable or erratic? What happens when others in your life do not follow the rules of engagement? Think about these things and about how you may want to behave moving forward that might be more equitable, more fair, more thoughtful, safer.
Let the memory of the horrors of two years ago wake you up to the potential for today. Be accountable for yourself and how you interact with others. Let your conscious behavior inform your steps and help to make this a better world.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.