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America: A Room with No Windows

Updated: Jan 13

I am having a hard time starting this blog post. Finding the right words to describe the past week in America is...challenging doesn’t even really seem like the right word to use. Personally, I am still processing what happened on January 6 and still feel like I am in a state of shock.


What bothers me most is not even that it happened (although I am not at all trying to minimize the events). No, what bothers me most is something I have heard a few reporters say- that we should all be shocked but not surprised.


Frankly, they are right. How could we be surprised? President Trump has always been a metastatic tumor of a cancer that has been running through America for years before his election. His lies and hate-filled rhetoric have no doubt worsened the disease, weakening the entire American body. The repercussions of that frailty convulsed last week in DC.


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When I was a child, I was introduced to a riddle that comes to mind now. It goes like this:


You are in a room with no windows, doors or any exit. The only items are a mirror and a table. How do you escape?


This conundrum is what I feel American democracy is like right now. We are stuck in this windowless room. We are supposed to be the shining beacon for the world, but instead Wednesday has left us looking at a sad mirror of ourselves. What do we see? Truly an ugly reflection. Is it possible we get out?


The answer to the riddle, by the way, is:


You look in the mirror and see what you saw. You take the saw and cut it in half. Two halves make a whole. Put the hole on the wall and climb out.


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It is in the answer to this riddle that I see some hope, however dull in this dark room of destitute democracy that we currently sit in. The fact that I was shocked but not surprised by the events that happened last week speaks to the saw that is needed to repair this country.


If we truly want unity--the whole-- then we need to cut some things apart. We need to cleave the tumorous growths that have rotted us to the core in order to form a hole and climb out of the sad state we are in.


The first step to healing is to remove Donald Trump from office and forever declare his legacy an abomination, through either the enactment of the Twenty Fifth Amendment or through impeachment. I am on the fence as to the more plausible path, but one must be done. If we are ever to be a true democracy, we must stand for something. The man, through his lie-drenched rhetoric, invoked an attempted coup. He stained everything and anything any patriot should hold dear if they believe in this country, and for that he must be cut away. His legacy must not be a part of our new whole.


Additionally politicians who were complicit, such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, need to be cut out. Their displays of inane fealty to Trump and support for the spread of disinformation that contributed to the the insurrection have made their leadership unsustainable. They should resign.


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We are damaged. It is not going to just be fixed on January 20 when President Biden is inaugurated. Just saying some nice words and begging for a “coming together” as some politicians have been doing the last few days is ignoring what brought us here.


Instead, an additional step in our sawing through the muck will be to have personal, hard conversations with those we disagree with. Clearly, many in this country do not see eye to eye. The response to this has been for many of us to just stop looking at each other altogether. We instead listen to different news sources, isolate in social media bubbles, and huddle in corners of confirmation bias.


I say, we need to sit down and stare.


As written by political scientists Lillian Mason and Nathan Kamoe on how we can work to prevent the violent events that occurred last week, “Ordinary citizens have an important role, too. Interpersonal conversations are among the strongest influences on political views and actions. Thus, the more Americans renounce violence in conversations with family members, friends and neighbors, the more likely people will consider violence an illegitimate political strategy.”


I hope for Citizen Jane to help stimulate these conversations, and I would be open to any ideas on how to do that better. Our democracy is truly at an inflection point. I feel we all need to step up--myself included--and do some hard work to move forward.


I envision a future of an America that is better than we are now. Not some MAGA nonsense that calls to a past that never existed. We are deeply flawed, but we can be better.



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