Sacred/Profane

2

January 13, 2021-

The scene at the United States Capitol building today was, in terms of non-legislative presence, the opposite of what it was a week ago. Law enforcement, backed by a formidable National Guard presence, ensured that no one would interfere with the proceedings in the House of Representatives chamber. Capitol Police officers who may have shown questionable loyalty, last week, were nowhere in sight; their more resolute comrades held the front line- against adversaries who simply did not return.

I have read, and heard, several references to the Capitol as a sacred place, and as a repository of democratic values and practices, in many ways it is that. It is also a place where the most profane of deals have been struck. It was those unseemly affairs, done mostly in secret, which sparked a few (though not many) of the violent acts committed in the Capitol’s halls and chambers, on January 6.

Two wrongs, or a thousand, do not make a right. I approach grand public buildings and monuments, however, with respect, with reverence-even if there have been occasions when those in the buildings have committed acts worthy of reproach. Indeed, even when the initial premise behind the building’s construction has been questionable, I honour the larger context of its relevance to humanity. I am thinking here of The Alamo, the Spanish Missions, Yuma Territorial Prison and Forts McHenry & Sumter. Our grand Federal buildings and monuments, in the nation’s capital, were built largely with the labour of the enslaved. All, however, have elements of the sacred, which energy has served as a protection in the worst of times.

There is no human institution, no human being, who can reasonably claim to have never committed a profane act. Thus, it falls to each of us to find, and encourage, the angels of each other’s better nature-while bearing in mind the fallability that has shown its face, every so often.

Debris

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January 7, 2021-

There was a lot of debris cleaned up, yesterday, by the custodial staff of the United States Capitol complex. They also had to do a lot of sanitizing, not because the mob which found its way inside the buildings was inherently any dirtier than any other group of people. It had to do with the sheer numbers-perhaps as many as 2,000 people, over the course of 5-6 hours.

Harder to cleanse, will be the debris in the national psyche. As always, in our society of artful dodgers, those whose words contributed to the mood of mayhem yesterday and those who act as apologists for the wirepullers, were quick to raise the specter of “Antifa”, a will’o’the wisp that always seems to pop up these past few years, whenever there is mayhem in the streets. There is even a whole line of “Antifa” posters, uniforms and bumper stickers, which invariably get trotted out, by any group that aims to dodge responsibility, either for its own actions or for the actions of those with whom it is sympathetic.

The sitting President has a forceful personality. He commands a lot of loyalty, from those for whom the world is moving too quickly along for their liking. He also has sycophants, who toss out such lovely phrases as “Let’s have trial by combat” or who raise a power fist while walking past a group who already agitated enough. The sitting President also has done just enough good for small business owners, some of whom I know, that they are frightened of life without him. Then, he has cultivated just enough good will among fundamentalist Christians and Jews, that it’s easy for his minions to raise the specter of Islamists and Atheists emerging, in his absence.

I appreciate what he has done for small business and for small investors, like myself. I also know that his successor, like his predecessor, will not be a raving, frothing, God-hating, communist, atheist, socialist baboon, surrounded by Islamists. Fear has been stoked, far beyond what was raised four years ago, when my advice to anyone who asked was-“Give this President a chance.” (This was the same thing that Barack Obama said, during the transition, by the way.) Fear needs to be released, and not by violence. It needs to be expressed as it was during the last, long night, when Trump supporters who were NOT running through the halls of Congress, but were instead conducted themsleves with decorum, abided by the processes of discourse and voting. It needs to be heard, addressed and then it’s time to let the fear go.

Finally, there are the public expression questions: Is there a difference between people, (of various political philosophies), who ask that the lives of people of colour be held in as high a regard as the lives of those of European descent, and people who ask that those same Euro-Americans not be left behind, as the world moves towards a truer equality-when it comes to the right to peacefully protest? Is there a difference between the two mega-groups, when it comes to how they are inherently viewed by those in power? Is one group to be judged guilty, as a whole, because some of its members are Marxist, while the other group is given a pass, despite some of its members being Fascist?

The answers, as stated over the past 24 hours, by several thoughtful people from across the political spectrum, are self-evident: No, no and no. I would be just as angered by a mob of people yelling “Black Lives Matter”, whilst running through the Capitol Building, and creating mayhem, as I am at the spectacle we saw yesterday. The fact is, though, that such a thing did not happen, last summer. There were anarchists raising mayhem then, as there were yesterday, but there was no invasion of a House of Governance by some of the main body of those gathered-as was the case, yesterday.

The debris will be long in clearing. We need all hands on deck.