When something like the storming of the US Capitol happens at the behest at the sitting, albeit outgoing, President, it causes one to stop and think. And when that one has two little girls under the age of 3, the thoughts immediately go to them. It’s not about what this means right now. It’s obviously not good, but they are safe and their life is Covid-normal right now. Rather, what does this mean for the country they will inherit? What will the world look like when they are my age (or half of my age)?
The answer to those questions likely stems from one other — was this the bottom? The hopeful side says yes. That finally we have reached a point where people will start to wake up. The fearful side says no, this is an opening salvo as the different sides retrench and engage in a conflict that will last for years.
There is definitely reason for hope. So much of the underlying causes of these conflicts are coming to the surface. We are beginning to get a better understanding of the systemic racism and sexism that is part of the social fabric of our country. Our younger generations are more inclusive, more diverse and more activated than I have ever seen.
There is also reason for concern. 74 million people voted for the president that incited violence. The leaders that can effect change are largely the same demographic of old white people that have been not effecting change for the past 20 years. The immediate aftermath shows that the divisions are deep and they are bitter, and that many didn’t learn anything. There is no accountability coming from anyone. A few sternly worded Tweets, a couple of public statements, but largely no action.
My hope would be that by the time my girls are leaving the nest, the world is a more peaceful and progressive and inclusive place. My fear is that things have actually gotten worse and more divisive. That we’ve seen worse acts and have had to come to a huge reckoning as a country. The reality is likely somewhere in between. As a country we always seem to be moving two steps forward, one step back. We elected a black man which was huge. Then we followed that up with pretty much the exact opposite.
The truth is the Trump presidency exposed a part of America that many like myself didn’t realize still existed. Or that it was as big as it is. It’s a group that feels oppressed and left behind. And it’s a group that is not easily going to change its mind. This group feels the country is being taken away from them by elites and minorities, that everything is conspiring against them. And while the attack on the capitol was an inflection point, and inspired by one individual, those feelings don’t simply fade away. It’s not likely that in the next 4 years, they are suddenly going to have a change of heart. This is especially true as a new group of people that find it politically beneficial to stoke the fires continue to do so.
So my fear continues to be that we are in for the long haul. That my girls will remember this and that it will affect them at some point in their life. That the vitriol that we are seeing is hear to stay for awhile and that we will remain a bitterly divided country for sometime. My hope is that they will also be part of the change. That they are part of the younger generation that not only preaches acceptance and tolerance, but lives by it. That embraces diversity and inclusion. That sees potential and acts to achieve it. And I hope that I give them the guidance and support to do all of that.