Today, January 11, 2021, fences are going up all over the capital of one of the greatest countries in human history. They are not being installed because the country is facing a threat from international terrorists or an invading army from another country. They are being put up because a substantial portion of our very own countrymen has been incited to fight violently against the very democracy they claim they are defending.
They have been fed lie upon lie from some of the highest officials, including the current and fortunately outgoing President of the United States. These voices have fanned the flames of hate and have shamelessly used the irrational fears of their listeners in the pursuit of their personal agendas. And they have done it, in part. because they think that if the democracy of this country gives true equality to all, they will lose the edge they think they have.
So, who are these fearful throngs, and what is the edge they think they will lose that terrifies them? They are, for the most part, white people who have enjoyed a certain unspoken “special place” in which they are an entitled, preferred, and protected group. Their fear is that if people who are different from them can also be ensured the same status, they will lose their privileges.
A great majority of them are probably not aware that this country has become such a great nation among the nations of the world because it learned a valuable lesson from the Roman Empire in its earliest republican format. And that lesson was that, as Rome conquered a people who were different from them, they embraced them, gave them the same rights as native-born Romans, and taught them about the lofty principles that the Roman Senate practiced. In other words, they have not been told that giving more equality to those who have been denied it would make for more “domestic security” and genuine peace, not less. They have not been told that in this case, equality, like love, grows stronger and exponentially when it is given away.
And this deception, preached by those whose mendacious careers have been built upon fear and division, has now reaped destruction and carnage in that now fenced in capital. And now, the seat of government in Washington D.C. resembles parallel sites in Kabul, where I lived for many years after 9/11. I hated those fences that I was forced to navigate as we worked to establish democratic principles in that broken land, and I hate to see them now.
May God grant that we will not be fenced in for long and that true peace and democracy will grow stronger than ever.