Healing a Divided Nation - January 7, 2021

Carl reflects on the events of January 6 at the United States Capital and hopes that we will be able to be part of a wave of action to help build bridges of understanding with our families, neighbors and communities.

Posted
January 7, 2021

Healing a Divided Nation - January 7, 2021

Carl reflects on the events of January 6 at the United States Capital and hopes that we will be able to be part of a wave of action to help build bridges of understanding with our families, neighbors and communities.

Posted
January 7, 2021
JFS Friends –
Like many of you,  yesterday I watched in shock and horror as an armed mob of citizens forced their way into the capital and occupied offices, destroyed property and disrupted the important work of the Senate and House who were in session to certify the results of our recent election. I pray for the speedy recovery of those that were injured defending our elected officials and working to restore order. One of the poignant moments for me personally was when Sam and I recognized one of the individuals in the mob – a fact that was confirmed by the reporter who had spoken with this individual and identified him by name. Part of what made this so difficult was that this is someone that we likely had shared a meal with and somebody who may have been in our home. It was an individual that Sam worked with on a daily basis at a previous employer. I look back now and realize there were signs he was moving in this direction. Being friends on Facebook I had watched over the months as his posts became more and more extreme in their tenor and tone. Rather than engaging and trying to connect, however, at some point I turned off his posts from showing up in my feed – I now look back and wonder about that decision.
In March of 1865 President Lincoln took the oath of office for the second time – in his inaugural address for his second term he addressed the need for the nation to heal its divisions. The Civil War was just coming to its conclusion and the nation was suffering greatly from the loss of life and the divisions that had turned brother against brother. Today, the speech is permanently engraved on the north interior wall of the Lincoln Memorial. The concluding words of his address have become famous:

"With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Lincoln’s words came to mind in part because of the experience of seeing someone I know as part of the armed mob invading the capital. Somehow it is psychologically easier to face a threat from the outside, someone we don’t know – perhaps from another country and part of the world. Seeing friends, neighbors and colleagues turn on one another is deeply disturbing and somehow harder to cope with.
Fortunately, order has been restored to our capital and Congress was able to complete its work last night of certifying the results of the election. I am left wondering, however, how we will take up the work of healing our nation.
I am proud that at JFS we embarked on the work of Diversity and Inclusion and have hired a consultant to help us navigate the process. Part of the process of building a safer and more secure community is to reduce and eliminate - as much as possible - the number of people that feel alienated – like their voices are not heard, respected or included.

The Bershider Rabbi teaches:
"Work for peace within your family, then in your street, then within the community."

It is clear that our nation is in need of healing – if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task I suggest you follow the advice of the Bershider Rabbi and start within your home and family, work your way out to your street and neighborhood and then to the community.
Nelson Mandela, after spending 27 years in prison for fighting Apartheid became President of South Africa and used his position to create the Peace and Reconciliation Commission because he realized that the only way to achieve a secure and lasting peace was to find a way to heal the divides that were tearing his country apart.
While our instinct may be to try to isolate ourselves from those that oppose our views the only way that we can secure a stronger, more complete peace is by finding a way to work with those we disagree with.
I hope that in the coming days, weeks and months we will be able to be part of a wave of action directed at reaching out to those who feel alienated and alone and help build bridges of understanding with our families, neighbors and communities.
If you are in need of someone to talk with – please know that I am here and ready to listen.
Photo of Nelson Mandela with quote from him: "If you want to make peace with your enemy, ou have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."
Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

Related Resources & News

A central location for you to be empowered with knowledge.