Yesterday, domestic terrorists attacked our nation. My 9 year old heard a bit about it and asked questions. I tried to explain it to her on her level. Unfortunately, in our world, the word “Lockdown” is on her level. She understands this word as I do not. I told her the Capitol was on lockdown. She saw people under their desks and doors barricaded. Not the images from D.C., but the ones from her mind, generated through drills and actual lockdowns that have taken place at her school in the past four years.
I remember having tornado drills in school, though we never had tornadoes. I was never afraid of someone coming into my school with a gun. But that is the reality for our kids. I was talking to teenagers at church years ago about the fear they live with daily. Even when I have to go through extra security checks, I don’t live with that fear. I don’t expect someone to open fire in a crowd. They do.
The global pandemic has introduced new fears to our world. When Hamilton was released on Disney+ this summer, I watched nervously as the actors sang in each others’ faces. It made me uncomfortable even though the performance had been taped before COVID 19 was a part of our world. Bel asks for hand sanitizer when we return to the car after being in any store. She asks why people aren’t wearing masks when she sees them. She is aware of the dangers and the ways we can stop the spread. I wonder sometimes if she and her generation will be safer and more sanitary because of this year. Will they finally put an end to the common cold?
But yesterday’s craziness was not new. The hate and selfishness have been around a long time. I think many of us just haven’t felt threatened by it in quite this way before. We have enjoyed our freedom and our democracy and felt sure in its continuance. Yesterday seemed like something from a movie or a book – The Hunger Games coming to life.
But I have friends who have experienced threats to their freedom, hate from strangers, people who would prefer they not be a part of our country. I wonder if yesterday’s news hit them like it did me. I wonder if they it just seemed like one more thing to them.
What will this do to the future of our nation and our democracy? Will it somehow end up with safeguards like the TSA lines in the airports that appeared after 9/11? Will it change altogether? Will anarchy reign? When Bel is 18 and able to vote, what will that look like? Was yesterday’s threat big enough to change our nation? Or will we punish the small people who tried to destroy us and move past them? Will the leaders who were too scared to recognize the rightful winner of an election finally realize what they have been doing? The role they had in yesterday’s chaos?