The world joined us as we watched in horror. The violence and insurrection in and on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, incited by people who care more about power and politics than country and democracy, will forever be a memory. Thinking of the extremist attack—an attempt to stop the electoral count and subvert the process of a peaceful presidential transition, a core tenet of our nation—it’s easy to give into feelings of helplessness and despair.
I know that people are astonished and scared, heartbroken and outraged—for me, an immigrant, the emotions were and are still very heavy. We collectively experienced a trauma and after a year of unending struggles and losses, our resiliency is once again being tested. The truth is, the darkness of those moments—a crescendo of these past four years—may forever cast a shadow on America’s soul and our own. Our work is to not let it, to overcome.
In the op-ed John Lewis penned before his passing, he reminded us all, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build… the Beloved Community.” We must all denounce treason and racism, and we must all continue to stand up and speak out against those that seek to divide and perpetuate inequality. Our moral obligation is to actively but non-violently participate in the democratic process, learning from history and working together to build a better, more just world.
While the reminders of our fragile democracy are top of mind, we must hold onto the possible. We can emerge from the ruin better for having survived the experience. We can be made stronger at the places we are scarred. We can build a more just world. But the healing and change starts with us—holding those responsible accountable, repairing the harm done, listening for understanding, disagreeing without being disrespectful, fighting for what is right and equitable, and forging ties that unite.
Now, more than ever, we must hold onto hope and act in love—for our country and state, for each other, and for our future. Our ability to see the humanity in our neighbors will help pave the way to fairness and equality. Our challenge now is to keep working and to never give up on the possibility of justice. Our challenge is, not in spite of that day but because of it, to act—not out of hate and fear but out of love and hope.
Author: Emily Byrne