Listen and think for yourself

Listen and think for yourself

‘I relive Jan. 6 a lot. And it is nothing if not painful. But I know that both things matter: the loss of my father, and the near loss of our country’s integrity.’

HALIFAX — I asked for my father's MAGA hat, from among the other pieces of his life that we kids were helping Mom clear out of their closet.

My father and I loved each other, despite the flaws we shared. Chief among those is stubbornness. A second is the desire to debate politics - hotly and loudly, too often. A third is the tendency towards pessimism.

On Jan. 5, before vaccines were widely available and despite the fact my parents took Covid seriously, we had the family Zoom call to try to rally him. (Find the bullet points to say when you know it might be the final goodbye. Bullet point 2: “Dad, thank you for supporting me in local politics, despite our differences.”)

At 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, we made the terrible decision to take my dad off the ventilator.

The hospital care team had left to prepare my father for compassionate extubation and get the family friend, who is also a nurse and so could be with him. Mom was in quarantine with Covid, but she could be there by phone with her friend's selfless help.

That is the point at which I first heard from my brother, “They are breaking into our Capitol.”


“Never mind - it doesn't matter.”

* * *

Obviously, I relive that day a lot. And it is nothing if not painful. But I know that both things matter: the loss of my father, and the near loss of our country's integrity.

What were you doing on Jan. 6? Regardless of your political leanings, here's what I ask of you now-recall what you were doing. Recall how you felt.

Then listen to what we have learned through the work of people in both parties and those who are testifying about that chaotic, complicated, and frankly bizarre time.

Stop and ask whether you are seeking a full and factual picture of what happened, and whether what transpired is truly OK. A basic point of fairness: Ask yourself what if the “other side” had done the same thing?

And I ask: What happens to this country if we don't figure out how to listen and talk to - and sometimes love - people who think differently from us?

* * *

My father had earlier said of Trump, “He doesn't lie, he embellishes.”

But by the late summer of 2020, he confessed to me on my porch in Vermont.

“I don't think I'll vote this year,” he said.

“But Dad, there might be people down-ballot you want to support.”

In the end, my father did not vote. Is this why Trump lost? Because enough good Americans had - quietly - seen through him?

I am working on that third flaw, pessimism. Can you lend me a hand?

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates