Finger Pointing

by | Jan 15, 2021

Above: The U.S. Capitol / Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

If we are to learn anything from the storming of our nation’s capitol honest reflection is in order. Who are we? What do we want for our country? How can all people have a voice in democracy? What changes are necessary? When will we look at the issues of race and wealth distribution? These are but a few things that need to be explored.

U.S. Capitol rioters, Jan. 6, 2021. Photo by Blink O’fanaye

While Jan. 6 will go down in history (mostly in infamy) this is not the first time riots and violence have claimed the day. The Whiskey Rebellion, Shays’ Rebellion, and the Dorr Rebellion (right here in Rhode Island), are things kids read about in school. All too often we look to Watts, L.A., and the protests following the George Floyd incident, but fail to remember the Democratic Convention in 1968, the Civil War Draft Riots and the carnage in Tulsa. Riots are not just a Black thing. They are also not relegated to left-wing extremists. There is plenty of guilt to go around.

I wrote a poem Again and Again to examine the cyclical futility that comes from ignoring core reasons. Yes, America is a great place. But equally a “yes” is our need to do some deep soul searching. Jan. 6, 2021, was also a day when the first Black man and another of Jewish descent were elected to represent Georgia in the Senate. That is something we can brag about. Only in America.

Again and Again

A bunch of arrests
Some mea culpas or two
Band aids on bullet holes
The old is now new
Until once again
Somewhere down the line
True causes are exposed
Time after time

Fingers get pointed
And words are exchanged
White folks over dinner
Cry out who is deranged
But off on the margins
It’s the same status quo
The capitol’s been stormed
Still change is a no

Books will be written
Shows will explain
Creating spin cycles
Where only few gain
But beneath this miasma
So raw and uncouth
Lies something forgotten
And that is the truth

The ideals of a nation
So platonically pure
Have yet to be attained
And one thing is sure
Until we can listen
Until folks will hear
We’ll see such things happen
Year after year

Flags being weaponized
By those wearing horns
Are not saving America
Instead faithful should mourn
We’ve been here before
Let’s look to our hearts
True changes are needed
So today let’s all start

Democracy will never be a perfect process. In fact, our founders knew this and that is why guardrails were built in. James Madison knew that we would have to check ourselves against our wants. Sure, changes have to be made, but these, hopefully, have an end in mind that factors in what is best for all. Perhaps a beginning might be our recognizing the importance of history and civics lessons in our schools.
See you soon – Bob

Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program, a mental health counselor, and a poetry lover.

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