The Governing Board of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County and our Social Justice Alliance grieve the violence, loss of life, and the loss of our sense of security as a nation after the events of January 6th in our Nation’s Capitol Building.  Our hearts grieve with the families of those who were hurt or killed.  Our eyes and minds grieve at the memory of Americans turning on their elected leaders inside the Capitol Building with violence and vandalism.  And our souls grieve that the politics of white grievance, egged on by falsehoods and outright lies, have become expressed in violent insurrection.  On the day after the election of the first Black and Jewish persons as Senators in the state of Georgia there was an insurrection against our elected leaders inside our Capitol Building.

Many of us watched in helpless horror as the events occurred on our television screens.  This attempt to stop the counting of the votes of all Americans certified by each and every state is an act of sedition and treason against all of our rights as Americans to have our votes counted each election.  There are still elected leaders that support this insurrection.  The history of peaceful transitions of power between elected Presidents of our representative Republic has been torn apart for the first time since our Constitution was instituted in 1789.  Some fear that such actions may become normalized, but we must ensure that this aberration of American tradition remains just that.

The acts we watched reaffirmed the centrality of our need for truth in public discourse.  We have seen how lies about election results have been used to turn Americans against each other.  We watched as some of the security forces of our own Capitol Building gave deference to white people in very different ways than we saw them approach Black and Brown protesters just last spring – taking pictures with them, even allowing them to force their way past security to ransack offices, steal mail and shoot firearms near our nation’s elected leaders.

We call on all forms of media and social media forums to diligently present the fullest forms of reporting that are true to the best of their knowledge.  For those areas of conflict, we call on our elected officials to restore the ‘fairness doctrine’ passed by Congress in 1949 (and revoked in 1987) to ensure the press addressed contrasting views of an issue to help teach us how we can hold the differing views of our neighbors with care and correction.

The violence of the few reminds us of the vision of the many.  We have learned some things:

  • The right to vote and free exercise thereof insures our future as a free people. The stranglehold of prejudice is breaking as more and more people are exercising their right and duty to vote.

  • We are realizing how important it is to elect people with some sense of integrity. Never again can we elect a President whose rhetoric is inflammatory and whose behavior is threatening to the well-being of so many described as “minorities.”  Decency, humility, and dedication to a cause greater than the self are crucial.

  • No matter the political differences, we have a responsibility to recognize the dignity of everyone. We can no longer tolerate prejudice, inequality, and governmental indifference when peoples’ rights and dignity are compromised by self-seeking, greedy, insensitive governmental leaders.

  • Finally, those charged with governmental power have a duty to act justly in the interest of all people. Political office should not and cannot be seen as a personal privilege for selfish and expedient advancement.

As America prepares for a new Administration, we pause to reflect on how precarious our American experiment is.  Religious, cultural, and political leaders must always have the courage to speak out against the maleficence we have witnessed the last four years.  This must never happen again.  We pledge to move forward in our quest for a more just and equitable society.