Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Democracy requires constant stewardship

The terrible events at the Capitol this past week should not come as a surprise, even as shocking as they were. This country has never owned up to the horrors of genocide of Native peoples or the sins of slavery and Jim Crow. It has been a terrific struggle from the very beginning to live up to the words in our founding documents. We have not always treated each other well, to put it mildly. Even before the American Revolution began, our own Green Mountain Boys were celebrated for doing awful things to Yorkers.
One of the lessons of our 245-year-old experiment in democracy is that it requires constant stewardship. We are indeed lucky in Vermont that Town Meeting is part of that effort.
But stewardship requires people working together for a common goal, be it stewardship of our farmland or forests, or of our very own democracy. How can we achieve this goal if we live in our own separate worlds, hardly ever having to relate to those we disagree with? We barely teach civics in our classrooms, history and the humanities in general may be pushed aside in favor of STEM courses, and political beliefs override what were either once friendships or the potential for new relationships. When the military draft, as unfair as it was, put thousands of Americans together, it at least afforded us the opportunity to work with people we might not normally associate with and see parts of the world we might not get to see. I am not saying restore the draft but we have lost our way in trying to build common ground through common experiences.
The road ahead will be terribly difficult. Those who were responsible for last week’s insurrection should be held 100% accountable, including Donald Trump. But we all must learn from this and commit ourselves to be stewards of democracy in ways that we never have before.
It is not up to Joe Biden or any other government official. It is up to us.
We know the difference between right and wrong. We know that when one of us is not free from racial injustice or oppression, then we are not free. During COVID, we have seen how important it is not to leave people out in the cold, trying to fend for themselves without help. We know what to do. Now, let all of us do the right thing. We have no other choice.
Ed Blechner
Addison

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