Like it or not, we all are members of a larger family: America.
As residents of a community, city and state, we are kin folk. Whether by blood or as neighbors; nearby or afar; friends or strangers; we all are related, by circumstances, in one way or another.
So what sane, sensible, rational and caring person deliberately does things to hurt and destroy the wellbeing of his or her family?
Our immediate family unit operates by norms, rules and expectations that guide individual behavior. The same holds true for our American family. There are principles, laws, policies and regulations that must be respected and upheld if we are to survive as a national unit.
Just as reckless, thoughtless and selfish behavior can destroy a family unit, the same type of behavior is a sure way to destroy our nation.
Such irrational behavior is playing out in America in an attempt to undermine our government and the electoral process.
The facts about the 2020 presidential election and what happened at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are clearly evident. But perpetually pushing false narratives are examples of dangerous behavior that put American democracy as we know it at risk.
The blatant propaganda about these seminal events is a clarion call.
If every caring and rational citizen is not alarmed by the growing trend of lies, misinformation and threats of a possible civil war if future election results do not meet expectations, we should be.
In the weeks and months to come, we must do what we can to stop the efforts to dismantle one of the fundamental tenets of this Republic: the sanctity of democratic elections.
Waiting until the results of the 2022 election or the 2024 election may well be too late.
Would you watch a problem festering and getting out of control in your immediate family before you decide to something about it? Would you tolerate and accept a constant barrage of lies, misrepresentations and deception from a family member?
Many are willing to believe that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was a peaceful protest of patriotic Americans — even though we saw the mayhem, lawlessness, attacks on police and threats to kill or harm lawmakers as it all unfolded in real time.
At what point did you stop believing what your eyes see? Can someone really convince you that the sky is green when you are looking dead at it and see that it is blue?
There are those who hope that destructive behavior shall pass. That America is strong enough to withstand misguided attacks from within.
Anarchy and autocracy are the ugly sides of democracy. Whichever is allowed to take hold and reign is determined by the will and fortitude of the people who stand to be impacted.
Creating chaos, peddling lies and misinformation, feeding conspiracy theories and preying on those who feel they have been short-changed on America’s promise are sure ways to dismiss and minimize what is good about our democracy.
More importantly, it opens the door for the seeds of autocracy to fester, grow and take hold.
Are we forgetting the value and benefits of belonging and maintaining loyalty to our larger democratic family that is America?
America will not survive and be sustained unless we remember. Unless we fight to protect it.
Pause and seriously imagine what life would be like if our democratic form of government, as imperfect as it might be, were not in place.
In this divisive political season, it so easy to forget and so easy to take for granted all the benefits of our democratic form of government. Are you willing to sit idly by and let it be destroyed by those who seem willing to be led by lies, deception and misinformation?
The overriding decision before us: Will there be enough Americans who will choose to uphold and protect our democracy or just watch its demise?
You would not sit by and allow threatening forces to destroy your immediate family. You would intervene. You would do something.
Plus, we must remember that our immediate families are not islands. The health, wellbeing and future of family members are inextricably tied to the health, wellbeing and future of America.
If we allow our government to fall into further chaos and dysfunction, it will be just a matter of time before greater pain is felt in our households. By our precious loved ones.
2022 can be the defining year — a turning point — in what America becomes. What life will be like for our immediate families. A recent poll offers a glimmer of hope that we might be finally seeing the light.
Now is the time to take three critical actions.
First, take every opportunity to consistently confront the lies and misrepresentations spewing from politicians with personal agendas and extreme media sources that play into and continue to spread them.
Sadly, a great percentage of our fellow Americans has bought into and believe those lies and misrepresentations because they refuse to search for the facts and truths for themselves. They think the course we are on will be good for them.
Second, demand that our voting rights are protected, and our election process is secure to prevent the shenanigans, lie, and potential disruptions of citizens legitimately casting their vote.
Great societies fall when those of us who know better choose to do nothing. The annals of history are strewn with examples.
Third, ask where are we headed as a nation and, if you don’t like the answer, do something about it while there is time.
Our individual families make up the greater American family.
For better or worse.
This commentary by Janice Ellis is published from The Missouri Independent through a Creative Commons license.