For me, one of the most riveting moments of the January 6th committee hearings happened after the closing gavel. Stephen Ayres told the pitiful story about how he’d been duped by the former President and came to Washington that fateful day to “stop the steal.”
When the hearing ended, Ayres went over to former Capitol Policemen Dunn, Fanone, and Gonnell to apologize. Was his action sincere or calculated for leniency? Maybe a bit of both? Either way, it doesn’t take away from the fact that apologizing for wrongdoings is critically needed if we are to advance life in America.
Why? Because it is clear America’s Civil War is still going on. Then, as now, power-hungry opportunists have exploited racism, sexism, poverty, and ignorance to divide the people.
Following Reconstruction, poor White people, who did not have the right to vote or decent wages, were told, in effect, “Don’t worry, at least you’re not Black or Brown.” Segregation, enforced by terrorism and disenfranchisement, maintained the status quo for a small group of wealthy, White men.
The playbook today is much the same. Ayres is a working-class husband and father who, under the guise of White privilege and “patriotism,” fell for the true Big Lie — that Biden didn’t win the election. I hope his apology was sincere. We need such apologies.
In his book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that if there was to be true peace and justice in the world, we needed “a revolution of values,” a revolution that “lifts neighborly concerns beyond one’s tribe, race, and class.”
He went on to observe that “Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist shared belief in the ultimate reality.” He suggests if we take this approach, we will come to appreciate that this supreme unifying principle of life resides in each of us.
But why, in the past 55 years since King penned those words, have his ideas been largely ignored? Perhaps it’s because many of us doubt the power of our own lives. Unconsciously, many of us wait for the calvary to save us. Well, the calvary is not coming. Besides, each one of us, in our own families, neighborhoods, and workplaces, can be positive agents of change.
It’s been noted that a rock can create fire, a flower naturally turns its head toward the sun, and an acorn can become an oak tree. Now, if common things are such wonders, how much more powerful is each human life?
Each of us can create community, speak truth, and support reconciliation. King said, “A genuine leader does not seek consensus but is a molder of consensus.” We do not need someone to appoint us a genuine leader. We can just become one.
Watch Bonnie Boswell Reports Fridays at 2:58 p.m., on KCET and www.kcet.org/bonnieboswellreports