Families are this test bed of love because we can’t entirely quit them. This is what makes families so fascinating, because you’re thrown together with a group of people, who you would never pick if you could simply pick on the grounds of compatibility. Compatibility is an achievement of love. It shouldn’t be the precondition of love, as we nowadays, in a slightly spoiled way, imagine it must be.
We’re highly socialized creatures who really take our cues from what is going on around us. And if we see an atmosphere of short tempers, of selfishness, etc., that will bolster those capacities within ourselves. If we see charity being exercised, if we see good humor, if we see forgiveness on display, it will lend support to those sides of ourselves. We need to take care what we’re exposing ourselves to, because too much exposure to the opposite of love makes us into very hostile and angry people.Alain de Botton; Author of the essay, “Why you will marry the wrong person”
We are family. America, that is. And family is where forgiveness takes place. Also interventions and tough love. We love you, but we have to level with you. As Krista Tippett said in her On Being interview with Alain de Botton, “In our marriages and with our children, there are things about the people we love the most, who drive us crazy, that we do not comprehend, and yet we find ways to be intelligent, to be loving — because it gets a better result.”
So, Republicans, we forgive you. Getting angry about your self-destructive and nation-disruptive behavior over the last four years hasn’t gotten much result. So we love you, but we have to be honest. You are off the rails, utterly and completely. You have been trying to create your own reality, but it isn’t pretty — or compatible with the real world.
True, the rest of us are imperfect. We are fallible, too, and often wrong. But we are still on the rails, however wobbily. And at a certain point, those who love you need to tell you that you can no longer drive the family car. It’s just too dangerous.
You’re part of the family and nothing will ever change that. But you are a danger to yourself and the family. We have to take away the keys until you acknowledge that you have a problem and start taking steps to becoming a responsible person again.
Even if you didn’t directly engage in insurrection, your support for it is seditious. And your embrace of outright lies about the election indicates that your grasp of reality can’t be trusted.
What is reality? To a large extent, it is “an agreed-upon fiction.” But when there is more than one agreed-upon fiction and they are completely at odds, another measure of “what’s real” must come into play. Your fiction is destroying this democracy. The rest of us can’t allow that to happen.
You’re being lied to by untrustworthy people in whom you placed total trust. At some point you will realize that they took advantage of that trust and betrayed you. You’ll shake your head over how this could have happened.
A few, too few, Republicans are starting to come to their senses. Ten Republican congressmen and women showed great courage in voting to impeach the man who led the insurrection. Seven Republican senators showed great courage in voting to convict him. The numbers are much too small but they indicate an awakening.
There are rays of hope, most notably Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman from Illinois, who has been telling the truth about his dysfunctional party. He says, “It’s time to unplug the outrage machine, reject the politics of personality, and cast aside the conspiracy theories and the rage. … People need to be reminded that the Republican Party has this rich history. We used to be optimistic.” He likens his party to going on a massive bender. In the morning, he says, “You have a choice. You can take a delicious Bloody Mary, or actually confront your choices and become a better person.”
Realizing the truth, telling the truth, and becoming a better person is not that hard. Well, it is for some people, like Mitch McConnell who knew the truth, then told the truth, but not until after he voted with 42 other Republican senators and reality-deniers to acquit the former president on the flimsiest of technicalities, just when the American family needed them most.
And why? Mostly because they’re afraid of losing their jobs, sad to say. What was more important at this crucial juncture in American history, defending democracy or keeping their jobs? Their answer was loud and clear and will shame them forever.
And here’s the thing: It’s not like their job is all that great. It’s the U.S. Senate for heaven’s sake. They do almost nothing. All they get from the job is the chance to be on TV once in a while and make a lot of money (though most are already rich). And feel “powerful,” whatever that means.
Is that worth betraying our family? In the film “A Man for All Seasons,” the future saint, Thomas More, during his trial, confronts his former assistant, who has lied and been rewarded with a political appointment (Attorney General of Wales). More says, “Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales?!”
The Republican Party sold its soul … for celebrity jobs and a few perks. That’s why they cannot be allowed anywhere near the steering wheel.
Kinzinger will likely lose his job, but he held onto his soul. He is the example Republicans need to follow.
For the sake of the country.
And because, never forget, we are a family.