The events of today are something I hoped I would never experience in my lifetime in my country, though I suppose I always knew it was coming. When you look back through history, there are moments described as turning points for our country, for our democracy. Today was one of those days. From November 3rd, and even before, something deep gnawed at me, a foreboding I couldn’t quite place. I realized what we were facing in the U.S., a president who would not follow the rule of law set out in our Constitution, not acknowledge facts or legal votes of citizens, and not follow any standard of decorum, integrity, or civility that typically marked the highest office in our nation, was what shook me to my core. It was the loss of democracy, the rise of a dictator (I would say mentally unsound, but I think that goes hand in hand), and potentially the loss of what makes the U.S. the great nation it is. A nation that until four years ago, held some sense of standing in the global arena, one that typically garnered respect, perhaps admiration, and even a mark of leadership in addressing some of the biggest challenges facing our world. In my life, I’ve seen the horrific consequences of dictatorial regimes, the warfare that can result in genocides. I’ve received images documenting mass atrocities that barely made the BBC for half a day. It still turns my stomach to remember. And what united all of those atrocities was hatred for a group of people, whether based on fact or not, propaganda to incite and fuel further hatred and acts of violence in its name, and a severe lack of humanity in demonstrating complete disregard for the value of a fellow human being’s life. Almost always, genocides are excused or ignored for a host of reasons that underline the race, class, and social issues thriving in our world, whether it be that those targeted live in Africa or another developing country or have long-standing religious differences. It’s always other. Until it isn’t. I remember being in Bosnia, where close friends of mine, only one year older than me, had survived the genocide there. It’s a developed country with lots of culture and traditions. Not a place where genocides are ‘supposed’ to occur, and certainly not in my lifetime. I looked around and tried to imagine how one could exist in such a place in the 21st century and in the next moment have snipers shooting at them, former neighbors and even friends, now gunning you down. As much as I studied it, until the last few months, and particularly today, I didn’t fully comprehend how we could get from a civilized society to chaos and outright attacks on fellow citizens and ultimately our democracy, the central tenet of the U.S. My heart aches for all of the lawmakers, staff, and police officers at the U.S. Capitol today, for everything they had to experience for merely doing their truly honorable jobs in an effort to keep our democracy intact. I am saddened for what they will have to process personally to overcome today’s trauma and how long that journey may take. I am grateful for the fact that I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting that went long and thus would not have to see the true horror of what happened today until I had a chance to speak with people who lead with humanity, decency, courage, and love, thus putting me in a more stable place for when I was able to watch what transpired at the Capitol. But it still shook me to my core. I am grateful, however, to be in the same orbit as those who lead with grace and humanity, even in our darkest moments, to not succumb to violence or derision. I only hope that one day I can be as wise and loving as them, to find the strength and fortitude to light a path that calls all of us to rise up and be better. Maybe some hope for my own evolution comes in something I thought I would never say, listen to Lindsey Graham. Enough is enough. Today was a harrowing and painful moment in our nation’s history, but like all of the times before, we will overcome and be a better nation and a stronger people. Justice and democracy are on our side, finally, and we will do better. So, take care of yourselves, and when you can, lead with love. ❤️

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