The events of Jan. 6 have shaken this country up once again and left some questioning when and how we will be able to shake off the dark cloud that is covering America.
In answer to this, I would say that the course of history is full of twists and turns, and events don’t always go as we would wish, but simply because we don’t see justice doesn’t mean that evil has overcome goodness. Rather, I think that though we must strive for justice, injustice can also serve a greater good; it can allow us to awaken.
What I see as the real goal is to save our country from the bad ideas that have been slowly destroying it for decades.
And so as tensions rise, we can respond with renewed faith and passion to protect and preserve the precious principles on which our government is based.
In his farewell address, President George Washington reminded us that morality is key to our freedom and we must take this seriously.
“’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”
President Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address given about a month before the official end of the Civil War, offered a message of forgiveness to southern slaveholders:
“It may seem strange that many men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not that we may not be judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither is answered fully. The Almighty has his own purpose.”
These two passages illustrate that while we must take a stand for what is right and just, justice must also be tempered with mercy.
One of my favorite pieces from Shakespeare is from “The Merchant of Venice,” when Portia explains to the merchant Shylock the importance of this balance:
“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.”
For those of us who feel great injustice is being done right now, this is the time to show mercy and kindness. Both Joe Biden and Melania Trump have called for the healing of this country, and I think the message is correct—because the vast majority of Americans are good, decent people, yet we feel at odds because of political ideology.
The Chinese Confucian scholar Mencius said:
“The tendency of man’s nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downward. There are none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows downward.”
To help encourage mercy, I offer this analogy: We would not become angry at a North Korean because of his political beliefs because we understand that he has lived his whole life under the oppression of some very bad ideas. We would also be patient with him if he was struggling to understand the importance of American values and virtues.
Propaganda is a very hard thing to overcome in oneself. I recently watched some videos made by a North Korean woman who is speaking out against the atrocities there, yet she still referred to Kim Jong-un as “our dear leader” even while criticizing him.
I make this analogy because, as I said above, America has been oppressed by certain bad ideas for decades now, long enough to influence the core values of many. To understand more of this context, I would invite you to read our series, “How the Specter of Communism is Destroying our World,” (ReadEpoch.com/Specter), particularly chapters 12 and 13 about how education and media have been influenced.
And bear in mind that while Washington said morality and virtue are key to a free society, Karl Marx repeatedly called morality “bourgeois” or oppressive. History has clearly shown whose system is really more desirable, although I realize that to many in this country, these lessons may not be clear.
Thus we can begin the work of healing by strengthening our virtue, by extending grace, help, knowledge, and empathy to those around us, especially if they are of a different political persuasion.
I don’t have any predictions as to when our country will be right again. We may have yet further down to go before things turn around, but this may actually be part of the work necessary to heal our country. And once the extreme is reached, circumstances will most certainly turn around.
Let me explain: Difficult times strengthen us and renew our faith and moral strength.
I imagine it this way: To an angel looking down from on high, each of our hearts is a point of light. Hearts with love, truth, humility, faith, mercy, and justice shine very brightly. When the angels see the points of light grow stronger, they rejoice. Devils despise this light and run away from it.
Each of us has a role to play in turning our country around—this isn’t just a platitude, I mean this literally and seriously. If we are clear about what is within our power and commit to it, we can transform our country.
In his farewell address, President Ronald Reagan gave us a starting point: “All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American, let ’em know and nail ’em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.”
In conclusion, if your heart is troubled now, start by forgiving. Forgive the injustice, forgive the intolerance, forgive the deception, forgive the weaknesses and ignorance of others.
When your heart is calm and your mind clear, then ask yourself, what role can you play? What good is within your power?
Some ideas to consider are:
Read, watch, and listen to things that inform you or give you moral strength, including beautiful music.
Learn more about history, and read the original documents. There are many homeschool history curricula available to help you and your children better understand what difficult texts mean and the significance of their ideas.
Reach out to those around you, especially those with different political views. See them as people, listen and try to understand what they care about.
Pay attention to local politics and hold officials accountable. Also pay attention to the decisions of your local school board, especially if your children are attending public school. Be vocal about your concerns.
And keep the goal in mind: We lost lives on Jan. 6, and we need to heal our wounds so we don’t needlessly lose any more.
Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.
June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.