Though imperfect and flawed, our nation’s founding fathers had a shared vision of the creation of a state where rule of the people would take precedent over the rule of any single individual.

And, in so doing, they acknowledged that, in order to make the decision-making processes about our nation as democratic as possible, it would have to invite varying parties with divergent opinions and beliefs to the table.

In fact, history records show that, especially in the years following the birth of the United States of America, that there was a lot of discussion and debate held as those same founding fathers set the course of the nation.

They debated over economics, politics and cultural matters, sometimes bitterly. We know this because many of these arguments and debates are recorded through the writings of the fathers themselves.

As we continue to do today, the founding fathers held different opinions about the government and how they believed it should have been run. However, no matter how tense the political discourse became, they never tore down the system to fit their own ideas.

On Jan. 6, we saw the ultimate danger to our system realized. Thousands of people, who disagreed with the results of a presidential election, gathered at our nation's Capitol.

At first, they acted within the confines of the Constitution to support President Donald Trump and made their grievances known through protest.

Then, it all took a turn for the worst. These thousands of armed people were incited by harmful rhetoric that helped fuel the fire of mob hatred and stormed the Capitol Building. Inside, the House and Senate were conducting the people's business, certifying the results of an election that was found to be fair, after multiple recounts in several swing states and dozens of lawsuits failed to prove otherwise.

The angry protesters became rioters and engaged in an orgy of destruction and terror which clearly crossed the line from constitutionally-protected speech into a violent insurrection.Our system of government, the very fabric of our nation, has always teetered on the edge of fragility. Our freedom itself has always been a threat because we have traditionally welcomed a plurality of ideas.

Therefore, when one expresses an idea, even one that threatens the very existence of the system that allows the speech in the first place, it is often protected by the Constitution.

But, until now, we’ve not seen the worst of what can happen with that plurality of ideas.

Change has been slow in coming in the United States, especially big systemic change, because we’ve used the system to correct its errors, the ballot instead of the bullet.

On Jan. 6, what occurred at the Capitol Building should shock the conscience of every single American and give us pause. It should force us to look in the mirror and ask, “What have we become, that we believe the ballot to no longer be a corrective and the bullet — aimed squarely at our neighbor — to be the only option?”

Part of the problem is the rhetoric, so inflamed and so hate-filled that it stirs the souls of men to their darkest natures. And, unfortunately, it’s coming to us from several different sources — from the Oval Office to the farthest reaches of the internet, often stoked by those who consider themselves enemies of the very system we seek to preserve — a system which was once the envy of the world, held up as an example of freedom and democracy, or reviled by autocrats and dictators because of the freedom it enshrined.

Our nation is a nation of laws. Aggrieved parties are always able to take their disagreements before the courts of law across the United States in order to have them arbitrated. The only requirement is that credible evidence must be presented in order for the courts to take up a case.

In the case of our November election, not a single shred of credible evidence has been presented that would indicate that some kind of widespread fraud has occurred. The courts have not taken up any of the cases that have been presented because there’s nothing to take up.

Still, the drumbeats persist, often stoked by those outside and inside who wish to watch our nation fall, for the very thing we are being told to fear to become the reality. They’ve, piece-by-piece, undermined the foundations of our system of government until a great number of our fellow citizens no longer believe democracy exists.

Compounding that has been self-serving politicians who have gone against the will and best interests of the people to line their own pockets and benefit their own special interests. All of this threatens our future.

Whatever happens in Washington D.C. going forward, regardless of who sits at the Resolute Desk in future administrations, we cannot sustain the nation for which so many have fought and died in the current manner.

Our freedom, our nation, is in danger, not from a party or political system, but from hatred and lies.

We must acknowledge that our fellow citizens are not the enemy, even if they hold different beliefs than us. We cannot subvert the democratic processes that once made the United States strong in order to fulfill our wishes.

And we must not fall victim to misinformation and lies. We, as a people, are subject to a greater flow of information than at any time in our history. Just because information exists does not mean it is worthwhile. Until we understand what is real and what is not, our nation remains deeply in danger.

On Jan. 20, the rightfully elected president of the United States, Joe Biden, will take office. We pray that it occurs in the manner intended by the forefathers, a peaceful transfer of power.

We and others will work to hold he and his new administration accountable for the decisions they make, just as we and the others have always held presidents accountable for their actions.

That is the way of freedom. That is the way of democracy. That is the way we exist and persist. That is the way we win this war against our worst natures.

We must set aside selfish ambition. We must stop listening to the constant refrain of “divide, divide” which has created the chaos in which we find ourselves. We must seek to preserve and improve the dream of the founding fathers. We must preserve freedom at the cost of our own personal preferences.

On Nov. 22, 1963, political fanaticism saw a terrible expression with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In remarks he was scheduled to give that day to the Texas Democratic State Committee, Kennedy was to address the radicalism of his time in a voice which echoes into ours: “Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the nation, and, indeed, to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom. So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our nation's future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause — united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future — and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”

Kennedy was right. Let us join together to carry our nation forward, putting aside party and personal gain to continue the great experiment. And may God deliver us from the hatred and division which wrought so much death and destruction on Jan. 6, either relegating it to a footnote of history or making it the turning point toward the creation of an even stronger union.

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