Who was not horrified Jan. 6, when an unsurprising protest at the U.S. Capitol turned into a siege on and inside the building? That was a nightmare and, in the days that followed, video footage of more and more of what happened inside to police and the calls for hanging the vice president were surreal, shocking, offensive and unacceptable.
And the night of Jan. 6, America and our towns delivered a Hail Mary for democracy, the U.S. and right over wrong. America did it by Congress getting back to work, in the building no longer under siege, and carrying out voters’ will for the next president and vice president. Not bad after surviving the afternoon not all there survived and no American can or should ever forget, as much as we might like to.
Writing this Jan. 9, I am still a little in shock and am hoping for an uneventful rest of 2021, with more and more people vaccinated, then fewer dying from the coronavirus, and maybe even a Windjammer Days, Pumpkinfest, Summerfest, Strawberry Festival and, at Christmas, the school choruses singing out from the First Congregational Church steps as the members, their families and others await Santa’s arrival on a fire truck below.
It is a nice dream, after last week’s nightmare and last year’s endless one we are not out of yet, but we are getting there.
And while the Capitol reverberated and returned from the hours of terror to get back to the nation’s business, Alna, which has been reverberating many months over a shoreland project and opposition to it, got down to the night’s scheduled town business, over Zoom where the town’s boards have long met due to the virus. And Third Selectman Greg Shute said something so simple and true – going ahead with the meeting was to not give in to the horrible act in Washington, D.C. – that it was also a reminder democracy is an active practice, not a passive ritual we do because that is how it has always been done; democracy depends on us in Alna, Wiscasset, Woolwich, Dresden, Westport Island, Southport, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Edgecomb to step up, or log in, to keep it alive, and safe.
Democracy has found a way, online for meetings, and with massive absentee voting; and referendum-style town meetings instead of open ones. It is not the same, but it has helped save lives and it has continued to get democracy done.
Whether the threat is a pandemic or terror, right and survival find a way. The loss and risk of loss in both scenarios are grave, but we must keep practicing democracy, online or otherwise, because it has to keep moving, so we can, onward and onward to a better time.