At This time in our nation’s history, we have much to fear.

FEAR:  An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.  It can be real or imagined.  This “loss of control” may cause us to panic.

HOPE, however, is always possible when we begin to look at the whole picture positively and begin to believe something could happen.

We need hope right now.

The coronavirus has caused many of us to fear for our lives or for those we care about.  A vaccine can bring us hope for a better tomorrow.  The fact that the Biden administration will follow the science and has a detailed plan for distribution should alleviate some of our fears.

Because our children have had to have virtual classes, we may fear our country’s youth are not receiving the schooling that they will need to make their future’s successful.  Again, we look to a hope that Congress can come up with some relief for school district’s who are struggling to make their staff’s and school’s environment safe.

Fear can also come from the news we hear on television or social media.  Our democracy is being challenged when there is doubt that some of the 150 million ballots cast in the November election were fraudulent.  But despite these claims by our current president, there is the hope that our constitution is working and our elections are free from fraud.

Intelligence reports we hear from agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law enforcement sources can also cause fear.  According to John Cohn, a former DHS counterterrorism professional, “the most significant terror related threat facing the United States today comes from violent extremists who are motivated by white supremacy and other far-radical right ideological causes.”

We all remember the hypersensitive emotions that evolved from George Floyd’s police killing last summer.  This incident led to non-violent protests all over the world.  For too long, beginning with the shooting of an innocent Black youth named Trayvon Martin in 2012, minorities were being killed by law enforcement and people were fed up.  Those who believed that black and brown Americans deserved to be treated fairly felt motivated and used their First Amendment right of free speech to rise up and show their support.

Unfortunately, United States-based violent extremists have capitalized on the increased social and political tensions in 2020.  They have tried to exploit the “social grievances” driving lawful protests with their actions. The whole Black Lives Matter movement has been overshadowed by far-right extremists known for hate speech and conspiracy theories.  Groups like the Proud Boys, who are known for racist statements, have emerged on the scene.

White supremacists have the belief that white people are superior to those of other races and they should dominate them.  While Donald Trump has not condemned these groups, he has tried to label as terrorists a left-leaning groups of agitators known as Antifa.  The trouble with pointing a finger at this group is that they are a broad group of individuals with no central leadership.

Small groups who call themselves Antifa have political beliefs that lean toward the left but do not conform with the Democratic platform.  Many members support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites.  Some have been known to employ radical or militant tactics to get out their messages.  The DHS has not identified these groups as terrorists.

It was hard to determine which groups or individuals caused the violence and looting that occurred in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha.  The whole situation needs to change if we want our country to be a “more perfect union.”

We as Americans and human beings cannot look away from the oppression of minority populations with a blind eye. On a positive note, President-Elect Biden says he will work for social and racial justice.  There is a ray of hope that we can have some reform.  In the future police departments would not be defunded but could be funded in such a manner where the marginalized are uplifted.  The formation of community programs which address their grievances could help change the tense relationships that exist.

Joe Biden brings us a feeling of hope.  He wants us to open our hearts and heal this country.  Eighty million voters, the highest popular vote ever, have faith that our nation can be made whole again.  The majority of the population of the United States have hope that we can be the UNITED States of America once again.

The Christmas holiday is filled with feelings of love and peace.  It is a time when we are encouraged to dream again.  To respect one another again.  And, by the grace of God, to begin to heal.   May the holiday season bring you hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Shawano Dems Op-Ed

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