Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” ~ John 8:32
If truth is synonymous with beauty as the poet asserts, then falsehood is akin to ugliness.
If truth shall make us free as the prophet declares, then deceit shall enslave and imprison us.
Seekers of truth and purveyors of honesty will recognize the long trail of vile lies that lie like rancid bread crumbs leading up to the ugly, slavish insurgency that terrorized and trashed the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
History will record the storming of the Capitol by denizens of the deep swamp of deceit as the stage upon which an American tragedy was played out before a world-wide audience. The atrocity and abomination perpetrated upon the nation’s bastion of government was the culmination of a four act play scripted on deceit, dishonesty, deception and disinformation. It was the predictable conclusion to an unrelenting assault upon Truth, Justice, the Rule of Law and the very Constitution upon which the republic is built. It was the consequence of relentless, malevolent manipulation of facts, the bending and breaking of truth.
At this grave moment in the history of a nation divided as in no other time since the Civil War, people of good faith and good will must recognize that these were not Lincoln’s “better angels” that descended upon the hallowed halls of the Capitol building to sanctify it. These were not brave Patriots that stormed the citadel of democracy to defend it.
“We the People” must rather acknowledge that at best this was a band of radicalized, brainwashed victims duped and snookered by a deeply deranged and delusional despot. But at worst we must confess that this was a tribe of domestic terrorists of disrepute, feckless cowards, demented bullies emboldened and enabled by a narcissistic ego-maniac and his complicit sycophants in high places more concerned about short term personal gain than forming a more perfect union and serving the common good.
The vandalism and violence stoked by the wildly false and fiery rhetoric of the sitting President and his enablers was timed to disrupt the pro forma congressional business of certifying the Electoral College count that declared Joe Biden the 46th President of the United States. At that same time certain members of the House and Senate were staging their own version of a coup, a sham debate on the legitimacy of the vote count in various states, and thereby elevating the myth of a “stolen election.” That debate was delayed but not usurped by the riotous insurgents. When the House and Senate reconvened after order was restored, the majority of Representatives and Senators on one side of the aisle, unmoved by the abomination perpetrated by the insurgents, continued their debate. In so doing they perpetuated the lie of a fraudulent election, the very lie that fueled the riot in the first place.
In the midst of that “theater of the absurd” there arose a Senator from Utah with an R before his name who mustered the character and decency to speak truth to power and pronounce fact over fiction. His brief remarks drew applause from both sides of the aisle, and serve as a fitting example of the truth-telling that must be restored if the beauty of this republic and the verity of this democracy is to thrive. Read his words, and pray that we who follow the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life may be profiles in courage and servants of truth.
“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.
The objectors have claimed they are doing so on behalf of the voters. Have an audit, they say, to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen. Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the President will continue to claim that the election was stolen. The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership. The truth is that President-elect Biden won this election. President Trump lost. Scores of courts, the President’s own Attorney General, and state election officials both Republican and Democrat have reached this unequivocal decision… I urge my colleagues to move forward with completing the electoral count, to refrain from further objections, and to unanimously affirm the legitimacy of the presidential election.”
History will record that on the afternoon of January 6, 2021 a riotous mob of flag waving Americans who perceived themselves as privileged Patriots and riding a wave of boundless dishonesty caused a whole lot of trouble in and around the US Capitol. It was trouble with a capital “T”. It was Capitol trouble like we haven’t seen since the year 1812 when the Red Coats invaded and torched it. But this time the marauders were home grown. As loyalists they were dutifully and passionately following the marching orders of their “Commander-in-Chief” by assaulting and ransacking the citadel of American democracy.
History will also record that on that same evening the House and Senate reconvened. Duly elected public servants who had just days before sworn their oath to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution reclaimed their sacrosanct space. At the end of the long day’s journey into night 138 Representatives and 7 Senators would choose to resume throwing gas on the fire lit by the sitting President; would continue to push dis/misinformation, deceit, lies. Within those legislative chambers 145 elected public servants would resume making their own kind of spurious trouble. And none of it was the “good trouble” that their recently deceased colleague, Representative John Lewis, the champion of voting rights was known for.
The brutally hard truth now facing this nation as we approach the inauguration of the incoming 46th POTUS is that the future of this young experiment in democracy depends not as much upon the skill set, behavior or party of the President (as critical as that may be), as it does upon the savvy, conduct and objectivity of its citizens. The fact is that the fate of American democracy rests on whether “We the People” can speak, discern and agree on facts (not “alternate facts”) and truth. We either tell and believe the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God… or we reap the consequences!
After the chaos of January 6 and looking at our monumental task ahead, I invite you to immerse yourself in the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis and also to remember these words from the man who gave us the novel 1984: “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ~George Orwell
May we all find the beauty and the freedom that dwells in such a revolutionary act played out upon this dynamic but mortal stage of democracy.