...I couldn’t help but see it as something more ominous -- a blunt declaration about the state of the country or perhaps a warning or, even worse, a prediction of what’s barreling down on us like a runaway train: RU!N.
I know a bit about ruin. Like most people my age, images of national ruin are burned into my memory: the Challenger rising into a blue sky and then breaking up in an orange ball of fire; Los Angeles burning after the Rodney King verdict; the Twin Towers collapsing and sending a shockwave of smoke, debris and sorrow through Manhattan’s canyons and across the country; and puddles of blood on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in LA, on a balcony in Memphis, on Jackie Kennedy’s dress, on a classroom floor in Newtown, CT, on the sidewalk outside a Manhattan apartment building forty years ago last month. There’s no end, it seems, to the ruin people inflict on people, only brief reprieves between catastrophes. Of course, it can be tough to recall those reprieves when we’re in the midst of a pandemic with no clear end in sight and we’re bombarded with news of the endless litigation that encourages a large part of the population to deny the clear and inevitable result of the election.
Recap of the carnage of Trump's insurrection and riots— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) January 7, 2021
14 officers injured & two hospitalized from the riots
A woman shot and killed in the Capitol
Two pipe bombs discovered at the party committees
Molotov cocktails and a long gun found on the Capitol grounds
Trump's legacy pic.twitter.com/SFwVBShTF9
But we’re all human, which is what we should remember. Human, first and foremost, and both capable of wondrous kindness and invention and prone to despicable wrongs and violence. We’re also bound to one another by blood and providence as parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, partners and friends. And we devote ourselves daily not just to being but to becoming: teachers and preachers; nurses and artists; plumbers, farmers, fire fighters, and writers. And finally, beyond all that and whether we want to admit it or not, we are Americans. And it’s this part of our identity and the impossibly complicated and contradictory perceptions of what “American” means and includes that has set us against one another, that has put us on the track to this ruin, the scale of which is yet to be determined.