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Seeking truth after the Capitol chaos

How colorful conversations can remind us what’s important

The U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Seeking truth after the Capitol chaos
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I called my Uncle Courtney the night of Jan. 8. We hadn’t talked since July and besides catching up, I wanted to hear his take on the events in Washington the day before. We sit on different ends of the spectrum—he leans left, while I am a conservative. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched the news unfold, but I imagined Courtney’s reaction to be one of anger.

A big cup of coffee at my side (he is a talker), I dialed his number. He answered and I readied my notebook and pen—he is always good for some Southern gems, and just in case I ever need a colloquialism for a colorful character in something I’m writing, I try to jot down the best turns of phrase. Courtney didn’t let me down, calling his two brothers “Whiskypalians” right off the bat for their allegiance to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

I asked what he’d been doing that day, how he came to hear about the chaos interrupting what ought to have been an orderly counting of Electoral College votes. He’d been home with COVID-19 and was awaiting a hip replacement—the perfect conditions for having nothing to do but watch the feed from the House Chamber. The president’s speech had cycled through the major news channels earlier that day, and Courtney told me Trump “knew when he fired ’em up and sent ’em off” that something like this would happen.

I never thought I’d align so closely with Courtney in his criticism of Trump. I’ve listened to clips from the president’s rally on the day of the chaos at the Capitol, and I agree with my uncle—yes, Trump fired them up and then slipped off to see the results.

The wound in Washington has been poorly treated, as though it were not serious. Some of my left-leaning relatives imagine a Biden administration will cure what ails us. They cry, “peace, peace,” but they are not ashamed of the left’s loathsome actions on abortion. The right seems to desire power above all else, and no one is telling the whole truth.

My prayer for our nation is that we would heed the words of Jeremiah 5:1: “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her.” We must be men and women who do justice and seek truth. We must elevate only those leaders who live by these standards.

After an hour of talking Trump and political intrigue, I managed to squeeze in a thank you for the laser-tag game Courtney had sent our boys for Christmas. “Your great-grandmother, Mama May, well, she always gave us something awful like rabbit-fur gloves,” implying his desire to give better gifts. I jotted down that family story in my notebook, too, glad I’d called my uncle. Glad we’d talked about things that mattered.

Julie Spencer is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute mid-career course.

Julie Spencer Julie is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute midcareer course.


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