Today is an anniversary of a very important date. Normally when we think of anniversaries, we think of a happy occasion. Sadly, today’s anniversary is anything but happy. Today, January 6, 2022, is the one-year anniversary of the horrifying attack on our nation’s Capitol by armed insurrectionists who violently attempted to overthrow the peaceful counting of electoral votes and thus the peaceful transfer of power to a new president of the United States.
One year ago, as I heard about this, I wrote this on Facebook:
It’s getting very scary in our country. I feel sick to my stomach. Why are people acting like animals? Where is our humanity? What has happened to decency and ethics? We are better than this, America!
These are the articles I referenced, making sure to use the most balanced news sources I knew of: Pence removed from Senate as protesters breach Capitol security | TheHill and DC protests updates: 4 dead after US Capitol breached on day of riots (usatoday.com)
I wrote two other posts that day. Here is one I wrote:
Let me just say emphatically that you cannot justify wrong by bringing up other wrong. Wrong is wrong. Own it. Don’t justify it. If you love peace, be peaceful. If you are disgusted by past acts of violence, still be peaceful. Set the example and be a light. That’s how we make positive change.
Why did I write that? Well, it’s because people were immediately downplaying the horrifying events of that day, saying that other events that had happened the past summer regarding some destructive protests were just as bad or worse. I learned a new word not long after that called “whataboutism.” It’s when you ignore, justify, or deflect from a current horrible situation by bringing up another horrible situation performed by people of an unrelated, often opposing group. It doesn’t work in relationships, and it doesn’t work regarding the insurrection.
My thoughts, as well as the thoughts of so many, were running rampant that day. My thoughts went back to a very powerful talk given by President Dallin H. Oaks in October 2020, called “Love Your Enemies.” This quote was particularly poignant on January 6, and I posted it with a refreshed testimony of modern-day prophets and apostles:
“[Obeying the laws of the land] …also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome. In a democratic society we always have the opportunity and the duty to persist peacefully until the next election.”
It’s like he knew…
A friend of mine argued about this post saying that it was actually Antifa that stormed the Capitol (People often incorrectly define Antifa as a domestic terrorist group when in fact it is a movement devoted to anti-fascism and anti-racism). She definitely wasn’t the only one who thought that, though. It was a strange theory – that the individuals dressed up as, speaking as, and acting as Trump supporters were actually not who they said they were, but were just trying to make pro-Trump people look bad.
But, that was not the truth – not even close. The day after the breech of the Capitol, and beyond, the identities of the insurrectionists came into play. The first was the infamous horned who was in many pictures of that day. I wrote this Facebook post on January 7:
I am a huge supporter of facts and truth-finding. When I hear an accusation, I research it. Here are just two articles, among many, that identify the horned man from the Capitol yesterday. He is Jake Angeli and a popular member of QAnon. Hopefully this helps bring light to those who were using this man as a reason to believe that Antifa stormed the Capitol yesterday. He isn’t shy about it, but very proud of his membership in QAnon.
The lady who was shot and killed yesterday was also a supporter of QAnon. Ashli Babbit tweeted the day before she died: “Nothing will stop us. they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours…dark to light.” Here is an article more about her: Ashli Babbitt Retweeted Lin Wood the Day She Died | Law&Crime (lawandcrime.com)
It can be hard to accept truth when it shatters some of your own ideals and loyalties. My heart hurts for those who didn’t want this to be true. Nobody wanted this to happen or be true, except those who did it. America is hurting. This isn’t about parties or politics. It’s about human decency. May we take this experience and learn from it.
I had become an avid advocate for the truth months before, during election season, as I read and heard so many inflammatory things in articles, in the news, in debates, in social media, etc. That conviction in me was renewed after the events of January 6. I didn’t jump to conclusions and make angry accusations with no proof. No – my heart was hurting, and I just wanted the truth because the truth brings peace and clarity. And when I shared my findings, I did so out of a place of responsibility and love with a desire to enlighten as I had been enlightened. I still have that motivation when I post and always will.
I have realized that there are many different types of people when it comes to truth. There are the people who don’t want to know what’s going on so don’t engage in truth-finding at all; the people who think they are getting truth from their chosen news sources but don’t do any fact-checking and can thus be easily fooled; the people who keep searching until they find “truth” that supports their narrative; and the people who really want to know the absolute truth no matter what that means for their current views and loyalties. And then there’s everything in between.
I have been a little bit of all of these in my life. At this point, I feel very strongly that the last one is the most responsible and helpful, and adopting that form of finding truth has changed my life for the better.
The first Sunday after the insurrection, January 9, my family was watching a long-time program put on by my church called “Music and the Spoken Word.” In that particular episode, the spoken message was all about truth-finding. It was such a breath of fresh air and brought peace to my soul. I was even happier when I saw the published article. I shared it for all to read: Music and the Spoken Word: Seek out the true and trustworthy – Church News (thechurchnews.com)
I didn’t stop there. I felt a strong spiritual pull to write a blog post on how to distinguish between truth and falsehoods, particularly in political discourse. I published it January 12: Separating the Truth from the Lies | Making Life a Bliss Complete.
I knew that my blog didn’t reach that many, but I truly hoped that my post would reach people and bring positive change. Much to my chagrin, that didn’t happen. Social media (including posts from my friends) was still overwhelmingly rampant with lies, conspiracy theories, and false accusations, as well as loud cries of election fraud. I posted my blog again on social media the following day and said:
My friends, truth does not always align with us, so maybe we should align ourselves with truth.
I feel like that comment I made was inspired. I was taking a walk the other day pondering on what I wanted to say at this one-year anniversary, and that same thought came to me again: Align your views to the truth, not align the truth to your views.
Over time I shared several unbiased, nonpartisan analyses and updates about the facts surrounding the insurrection because I wanted to help be a truth-teller. (I learned through this that telling the truth, even respectfully, can get you enemies. I have had to prayerfully, at that time and since then, consider when to post and how to post, and to whom. It has been a process and I’m grateful for the Spirit which guides me as my heart and mind are open.)
Despite Trump’s and many of his supporters’ continued, yet unfounded belief that the election was stolen, Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, 2021. It was a beautiful event with really inspiring music, a poignant poem, and uplifting speeches. It was a breath of fresh air in a nation filled with turmoil and hate.
And then social media shifted from constantly talking about the insurrection to bashing our new president. I saw one post being widely shared on social media just two days after inauguration, and I felt that I had to say something:
Friends, I have a piece of friendly and helpful advice: if you see an article, picture, or video posted whose sole purpose is to demean and belittle someone, question the source before you question the person the post is about. Most likely, the person who created the post is just trying to cause trouble and knows he/she is sharing untruths.
For example, tons of people have posted a video of President Biden where he is supposedly being told through his earpiece to salute the Marines and then he says it instead of salutes them. These video postings are obviously meant to make Biden look stupid and disrespectful of the military.
And yet, if you actually listen to the video, you will find that he did not say that. He actually said, “Good looking Marine.” He also was not wearing an earpiece. I looked up information about saluting too, and the Marines would need to salute him before he would salute back. The Marines in the video did not salute him at that moment.
Please understand that by sharing posts like this that division will only get worse in our country, as will unfounded disrespect for our leaders.
Is Joe Biden perfect? No. Will he make mistakes and impose some policies we don’t like or agree with? Sometimes, yes. But does he deserve our respect and support as Commander in Chief? Absolutely! And with our support and prayers he will thrive as president.
If he actually does something deplorable, please talk about it. Otherwise, leave him be. It’s wrong regardless who is president. Thanks for listening!
I can honestly say that I would share the exact sentiments no matter who the unkind and untrue post/video was about. I would hope everyone would, but it takes the truth being more important to us than what we want to be true.
Even with the shift in focus to making our new president look bad, the insurrection did not just fade into the shadows.
President Trump had been impeached by the House of Representatives on January 13, and the trial went to the Senate in February 2021 after he had left office (they tried to go to trial sooner, while Trump was still president but the request was denied). I was not able to listen to all of the trial, but I listened to/watched a great deal of it and then read updates during times I couldn’t watch. I had no preconceived notions and was there simply to hear the truth. I remember feeling incredibly shocked and terrified as the context of the events leading up to January 6 unfolded, as I heard comments made by the former president and many of his strongest and powerful allies calling for violence, as I saw images and videos of the destruction and treatment of the brave police officers, etc. My heart was heavy as my mind came to a clearer knowledge of the truth. Even though there were many accusations of this being a hyper-partisan witch hunt, I never once felt that – I could see the emotion and the pain, and the strong desire for truth to be told and accountability to be met. The day of the vote, on February 13, I pulled over to the side of the road to listen – I was probably holding my breath most of the time. I was astonished when so many senators said “not guilty.” By the end, even though a majority did vote for “guilty,” only 7 out of 17 Republicans that were needed to make a guilty verdict voted in that way. Several Republicans said they knew Trump was responsible but refused to vote guilty because he was no longer president. Others remained his supporters no matter what. I definitely wrote down the names of the 7 brave Republicans who I felt put country over party that day, regardless of the consequences which would come.
I have reflected on the effects of the impeachment results a lot. Even while the trial was going on, I had dear friends tell me they thought the impeachment trial was unnecessary and saw no need to do it since Trump was no longer president. Apparently many senators felt the same, or at least claimed to. But, as I think about what has happened over the past year, and what is continuing to happen, I’m not so sure. Had former President Trump been impeached, then maybe, just maybe, his influence would have steadily waned, especially with the Republican members of Congress. Maybe people would finally have stopped saying that the election was stolen when it had been proven over and over again that it wasn’t anyway. Maybe people wouldn’t still be hanging Trump flags and speaking horrible, unfounded things about our current president. Maybe Republican politicians wouldn’t feel like they have to choose party over principle due to fear and/or immense pressure from their shifting party values and loyalties. Maybe there wouldn’t be states adopting suppressive voting restrictions (that make voting harder for many), and excessive gerrymandering (that allows politicians to choose their voters instead of voters choosing them), in the name of someone who still claims there was massive voter fraud in the last election when there absolutely was not. And maybe friend and family relationships would now be healing that had been previously severed because of devout loyalty to the former president at all costs (I know of several people this has happened to and it truly pains my heart).
I’m so sorry if what I just said sounds negative. I’m not trying to be. This is simply the reality that has been looming over our nation for a year now, and even longer in some cases. I truly hope that the bipartisan House panel investigating the events of January 6 and leading up to it will help bring the accountability and closure our nation so desperately needs. I continue to be enlightened and shocked at the same time at their continuous findings.
After this difficult year, it would be easy for people who just want the truth to be believed and goodness to prevail, to be fearful, discouraged, and forlorn over this situation that seems like will never end.
Though my heart is sometimes heavy with how divided our country is over many politically-charged issues, the most common being something that shouldn’t even be political – COVID-19 and the vaccine – I find solace in my faith in Jesus Christ and His servants.
The most compelling thing I can share with you today is that I know that God still speaks through prophets, seers, and revelators. I have always known this, but I today I share it with you in direct relation to our current political climate in America.
Yesterday, I went back to review a blog post I wrote in October 2020 regarding my prayerful search to find out who to vote for in the presidential election. I searched for answers from my church’s 2020 General Conference and then documented my findings with specific quotes that fit the patterns I saw the most. As I looked through those yesterday, I was struck with the wisdom shared three months before the insurrection that had the counsel been followed by all, it never would have happened. These words also lead and guide us on how we need to behave now and, in the future so history does not repeat itself. Read these quotes and see how you feel reading them:
“In a democratic government, we will always have differences over proposed candidates and policies. However, as followers of Christ we must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings.”
“[Obeying the laws of the land] does not mean that we agree with all that is done with the force of law. It means that we obey the current law and use peaceful means to change it. It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome. In a democratic society we always have the opportunity and the duty to persist peacefully until the next election.”
“Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, ‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”
“Though Jesus’s teachings were revolutionary, He did not teach revolution or law-breaking. He taught a better way.”
“During the past few months I have had the impression come to me that the best way to help the current world situation is for all people to rely more fully upon God and to turn their hearts to Him through sincere prayer. Humbling ourselves and seeking heaven’s inspiration to endure or conquer what is before us will be our safest and surest way to move confidently forward through these troubling times. I invite you to pray always. Pray for your family. Pray for your leaders of nations. Pray for the courageous people who are at the front lines in this current battle against social, environmental, political, and biological plagues that impact the people throughout the world, the rich and the poor, the young and the old…No matter how you pray or to whom you pray, please exercise your faith — whatever your faith may be — and
pray for your country and for your national leaders. … This is not about politics or policy. This is about peace and the healing that can come to individual souls as well as to the souls of countries.”
From Elder William K. Jackson (speaking of the culture of Christ) –
“It unites rather than divides. [There is no] or us vs. them mentality…We are all ‘us.’ We are all ‘them…”
“It heals rather than harms… We believe we are responsible and accountable for ourselves, each other, the church, and our world. Charity, true Christ-like caring, is the bedrock of this culture. We feel real concern for the needs of our fellow man, temporal and spiritual, and act on those feelings.”
“…It is a culture… of high moral standards, sacrifice, forgiveness…”
“It espouses the concept of equal worth…There is no prejudice……The worth of souls is great… It is inclusive, not exclusive… This dispels prejudice and hatred.”
Quoting Moses 7:19, “They were of one heart and of one mind.”
“What are the fundamentals that sustain a flourishing society? One that promotes happiness, progress, peace, and well-being among its members.”
“The institutions of family and religion have been crucial for endowing both individuals and communities with the virtues that sustain an enduring society…These virtues, rooted in scripture, include integrity, responsibility and accountability, compassion, marriage and fidelity in marriage, respect for others and the property of others, service and the necessity and dignity of work, among others.”
“…When people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the arm of flesh, disaster lurks…is to ignore the divine author of human rights and human dignity and give the highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard.”
“As the world speaks less of Jesus Christ, let us speak more of Him…We care more about being His followers than being ‘liked’ by our own followers.”
“Of all the zealous social, religious and political endeavors of our day, let ‘disciple of Jesus Christ’ be our most pronounced and affirming affiliation.”
“‘Be of good cheer’ is the commandment from the Lord, not be of good fear.”
“Unity doesn’t magically happen; it takes work. It’s messy, sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and it happens gradually when we clear away the bad as fast as the good can grow. We are never alone in our efforts to create unity.”
“The millions who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ have committed themselves to achieving both righteousness and unity. We are all aware that we can do better, and that is our challenge in this day. We can be a force to lift and bless society as a whole…We can be an oasis of unity and celebrate diversity. Unity and diversity are not opposites. We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity.”
“Unity is enhanced when people are treated with dignity and respect even when they are different in outward characteristics.”
“By following Jesus’ example, we will avoid many tragedies and undesirable behaviors that might cause family problems and disagreements, negative emotions and inclinations, perpetrating injustices and abuses, enslavement by evil addictions, and anything else that would be against the Lord’s commandments.”
“Christ will enable us to see others as He does. And with His help, we can discern what is most needful…As with all gifts the Father so willingly offers, seeing deeply requires us to ask Him — and then act.” By asking to see others and then acting by “loving, serving, and affirming their worth and potential as prompted.”
“As we face challenges, we can rely upon the promise of the Lord taught by Paul: ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind’ ” (1 Timothy 1:7).
I am so incredibly grateful that I did this exercise during General Conference. It meant a lot to me then, and it means even more to me now.
In my blog post about my findings, I also expressed this sentiment: To believe one party or candidate is godly and another isn’t without truly studying and praying is doing a disservice to yourself, your country, and the candidates who wish to serve America the best way they know how.
Unfortunately, by committing to doing this research rather than automatically voting for the current president’s reelection, a relationship with someone I love dearly was severely damaged and has not recovered even with much love and service on my part. There is very little in my life that has hurt me more than this reality.
In the midst of this pain, I did feel so much peace as I listened to President Dallin H. Oaks’ talk in the April 2021 General Conference, which was three months after the insurrection. His talk was about the inspired Constitution of the United States. I’m so grateful for his talk because not only did it indirectly denounce the insurrection on January 6, 2021, it also brought me confirmation that my prayerful research, and my desire to do my research and possibly vote for a different party than normal, was righteous and acceptable before God. Here are some important quotes from the talk that illustrate that:
“Sovereign power in the people does not mean that mobs or other groups of people can intervene to intimidate or force government action.”
“…I see divine inspiration in the vital purpose of the entire Constitution. We are to be governed by law and not by individuals, and our loyalty is to the Constitution and its principles and processes, not to any office holder. In this way, all persons are to be equal before the law. These principles block the autocratic ambitions that have corrupted democracy in some countries. They also mean that none of the three branches of government should be dominant over the others or prevent the others from performing their proper constitutional functions to check one another.”
“The dignity and force of the Constitution is reduced by those who refer to it like a loyalty test or a political slogan, instead of its lofty status as a source of authorization for and limits on government authority.”
“What else are faithful Latter-day Saints to do? We must pray for the Lord to guide and bless all nations and their leaders. This is part of our article of faith. Being subject to presidents or rulers of course poses no obstacle to our opposing individual laws or policies. It does require that we exercise our influence civilly and peacefully within the framework of our constitutions and applicable laws. On contested issues, we should seek to moderate and unify. There are other duties that are part of upholding the inspired Constitution. We should learn and advocate the inspired principles of the Constitution. We should seek out and support wise and good persons who will support those principles in their public actions. We should be knowledgeable citizens who are active in making our influence felt in civic affairs.”
“There are many political issues, and no party, platform, or individual candidate can satisfy all personal preferences. Each citizen must therefore decide which issues are most important to him or her at any particular time. Then members should seek inspiration on how to exercise their influence according to their individual priorities. This process will not be easy. It may require changing party support or candidate choices, even from election to election. Such independent actions will sometimes require voters to support candidates or political parties or platforms whose other positions they cannot approve. That is one reason we encourage our members to refrain from judging one another in political matters. We should never assert that a faithful Latter-day Saint cannot belong to a particular party or vote for a particular candidate. We teach correct principles and leave our members to choose how to prioritize and apply those principles on the issues presented from time to time. We also insist, and we ask our local leaders to insist, that political choices and affiliations not be the subject of teachings or advocacy in any of our Church meetings.”
We can all learn so much from President Oaks’ words. We learn that there is a danger is putting an elected official above the law of the land or the laws of God, and that we must elect wise and good individuals to serve in our government. We learn that we must follow the law and remain peaceful when we disagree. We learn that it is acceptable and righteous to vote our consciences on the issues we feel are most important, regardless of political party, which brings further clarity to me that God doesn’t align with, or expect us to be a part of, any particular political party. And there is so much more we can learn.
I know I have taken many directions in this post, but I hope it is of help to someone. I know that even though January 6, 2021 is a day we wish never happened, we must never forget it. We must learn from it. We must be better from it. We must unite as Americans to fight for and do what is right for our country, regardless of any party, platform, policy, or politician. Maintaining the cause of freedom, and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans is not about any of that. It’s about spreading the light of Christ (or goodness in general) so all feel included, respected, and cared for. This cannot be done in a spirit of anger, choosing to only see your side as right and the other as completely wrong. It cannot be done by name-calling or spreading hateful gossip, exaggerations, and lies to make others look bad. No, that does nothing but cause division and hurt. Instead, to share this goodness and light that our nation so desperately needs, we must do so with unity, temperance, brotherly kindness, equity, and peaceful methods. We must strive for compromise and collaboration, set high standards for ourselves and those we elect, denounce all wrongdoing, regardless of who is doing it, and be wholly committed to embracing and sharing the TRUTH.
***What kind of American do you want to identify with in the history books years from now? What legacy do you want to leave for your descendants? We all have a choice. ***
Note: Not long after I published this, I took the time to listen to President Biden’s speech regarding this anniversary. I was greatly moved by it. I am so grateful that President Biden told the truth in all its ugliness, while also giving wise and inspiring council on how our nation was built, what it means to be an American, and how we can move forward into the future. His words mirror what I have learned about the insurrection over the past year as well as what I have thought and felt as I have been pondering the one-year anniversary the last few days. Here is the speech: Read Biden’s full speech marking anniversary of Jan. 6 attack | PBS NewsHour