Well, by now, you and I have read a whole raft of commentary and opinion on this week’s “insurrection” in Wednesday in D. C. I’ve even written some of it.
But there’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to say that I haven’t quite been able to get my head around.
Let’s start here. On Wednesday evening when the Senate re-convened, there were a bunch of speeches. Almost all of the Senators seemed to take their ground-hog like emergence from wherever they had burrowed to safety as an occasion, in the words of Senator, Ben Sasse, to proclaim that the U.S. “is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”
I want to like Sasse because he’s one of the few Republican’s (besides Romney) who has had the guts to stand up to Trump. But I gotta call bs on his, the U.S. “is the most exceptional nation in the history of world.” Mitch McConnell and a slew of others said something similar, talking about how the U.S. was, “the greatest democracy on earth, in history,” and all.
I guess they thought that was reassuring us. Or maybe they were just reminding themselves of how important they are.
I imagine another possible reaction to Wednesday’s events. Namely, being humbled.
Being humbled is different than exhibiting it’s close cousin, humility. Humility is a virtue, not being too full of yourself, being aware that you aren’t all that. It’s something you try to do, like being, brave.
“Humbled” is different. It’s not something you do. Not something you achieve. It is something that happens to you, something that is done to you. It comes, not from within, but from without.
You can get humbled by good things. Like the demonstration of genuine goodness and costly love. And you can get humbled by bad stuff, like Wednesday’s insurrection.
Either way, the effect is to kind of just shut you up. To say, if you say anything at all, what the prophet Isaiah said when God appeared to him high and lifted up in the temple, “I am a sinful man, and I dwell in the midst of a sinful people.” (Isaiah 6)
We are hushed up. Quieted. Repentant. We don’t natter on about our greatness, say that we are exceptional, unusual, not like everybody else, better than everyone else, better than all the other nations of the world or of history. Sort of the opposite. We are just like everyone else. A mess. Sinful. Deeply flawed.
Oh I know all the good things we can point to about America and Americans. Some of it is even true. But the truth is, we elected Trump. The truth is those louts parading through the capitol with Confederate flags are as American as I am, as you are.
By all means, hold to account the bad actors. Hold to account the President who is a bold-faced liar and the human equivalent of a black hole in space, sucking all the energy into it’s emptiness.
But be humbled. Be ashamed. All of us. Every one of us.
“The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O Lord, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51: 17)