Presented at Cincinnati’s Jan. 6th Remembrance at City Hall, Jan. 6, 2022.
Fear is too much with us.
For all of us, no matter who you voted for.
It is the emotion that we share.
After the election, many among us were made afraid that their vote did not count, and so they answered a call to go and march.
They were afraid – afraid that the democracy we cherish was under threat – afraid for the future of the America we love.
We who witnessed the breach of the Capitol building, the violence at the seat of our legislators – we who witnessed the destruction, and delay– we were also afraid for the America we love.
We were afraid because the democracy we cherish was under threat.
It was terrifying to watch the physical violence, the weaponization of the American flag, the beating of those who are sworn to serve and protect.
It is not who we are. And yet, it is who we are.
And, it was real and violent and a threat to our way of governance – to our way of life.
And today we remember.
We have never forgotten.
Like the pandemic, the emotions of that day seem to be with us always, emerging here, laying quiet for a moment then surprising us with anxiety for our future.
Some memories are like that – some memories stick.
Bad ones and good ones.
A personal good memory: I remember the day my father became a naturalized citizen.
He was born in Iran. My mother was born in Kentucky where the commonwealth motto is “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”
The day my father became an American citizen was a BIG day.
I remember the shine on his shoes, and the little American flag he was given that day.
The freedom and promise of democracy were central to his values.
Like so many of you, the promise of peaceful transfer of power has been taken for granted as central to my understanding, and identity, as an American.
To have that understanding assaulted has been disorienting, frightening, and disappointing.
And all this while we struggle with a pandemic.
But the deeper truth is, below the fear and disappointment lies a stronger force.
At the root of this remembrance is love for our country, for democracy, and for our fellow citizen.
Because we love, we are afraid of loss.
Because we love, we are sad and disappointed.
Because we love, we seek to bridge the divide and stand united again.
Yes, fear is much with us.
And love is stronger than fear.
We who love will feel strongly – let us act with gentle clarity.
And let us remember to love one another.