Bob’s Blog: E Pluribus Unum in Shambles

What an extraordinary, painful, and tragic beginning to the new year – after licking our collective wounds in closing a horrifying Covid-dominated 2020.

In my view, the riotous insurrection of far-right extremists and white supremacists storming our nation’s Capitol is more tragic than the 9/11 attack, the assassination of President Kennedy, or the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This frontal assault on our nation’s democracy came from within our nation, engineered by American citizens, in a President Trump-fueled act of sedition resulting in domestic terrorism.

For nearly two centuries, America’s democratic principles have been consistently and uniformly adhered to after a Presidential election – or any election.  The election campaign and partisan politics can get nasty, divisive, and troubling.  But election after election, the acceptance of “the people have voted” and the orderly transfer of power has held true and held firm – until this past week.  Our nation’s motto, E Pluribus Unum – “out of many, one” – was desecrated and dismantled in the attack on the Capitol.

In the couple of days since this event, much has been said by news commentators and in social media about the structural racism implications surrounding this sad episode, and the stark difference in how Capitol law enforcement treated Wednesday’s insurrectionists and how Black Lives Matters protesters are continually treated.   Once again, the spectre of anti-Black Racism is infused through our nation’s civic and political events.

However dark and tragic this episode, I am a big believer in the power of America’s democracy, and the resilience of people of good will – whatever their political affiliation.  It is too soon to tell exactly how, but I believe our nation and our democracy will indeed emerge stronger – and ultimately, more unified.  It is my hope, this past week represents the lowest point of our nation’s descent into white supremacist fueled divisiveness and the most severe forms of exclusionary politics.  I hope what we witnessed yesterday was the death rattle of the politics of exclusion in our nation.  Let the healing begin.

A pastor of mine once defined the word faith as “do what ya gotta do and leave the rest up to the Lord.”  What must we do – and by we, I mean Californians and Americans of good will who believe in realizing the promise of this nation for all – going forward?  Translate our outrage into sustained and concerted action: voting, civic engagement and participation, enabling system and policy changes that are driven by inclusiveness and racial equity, using our voice and our individual agency and collective power to usher in the change of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community.

Let’s do that.  And leave the rest up to the Creator.

Dr. Robert K. Ross


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