When I was a kid in the 1970s, my family watched NBC Nightly News every night. I remember coverage of the end of Vietnam, and of Watergate. I remember watching Richard Nixon announce his resignation, and wave his famous two-finger victory signal just before the helicopter door closed and he flew off to become a private citizen.
I remember even better as a young adult the news coverage of Bill Clinton’s public moral failings, his evasive lies (“it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”), and his impeachment trial.
Point is, I’ve seen some shameful things happen in these United States. But none of what I’ve seen before compares with what happened yesterday at the U.S. Capitol.
I remember NBC Nightly News showing things like this happening in other countries — ones with long histories of instability and corruption, led by crackpot despot leaders. Backwater countries. Banana republics.
As a kid, even as a young adult, I believed in American exceptionalism. Over the last twenty years or so, that belief has slowly eroded. Yesterday, the last of it was destroyed. Perhaps you are in the same boat.
I’m trying to see this as a positive. I know that the first step to being a better person is to see yourself clearly for who and what you are. I feel sure that the same is true of nations. The difficult events of the last few years, capped with yesterday’s invasion of the U.S. Capitol by U.S. citizens, are a mirror that shows us who we have become as a nation. May we choose to look deeply into it. May we be shocked enough that we band together to demand meaningful change, so that America can truly become great again.