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This land was made for you, me


Jan. 6, 2021, will be a day that Americans will remember for the rest of our lives. This was to be the day that a joint session of our Congress ceremoniously confirmed the results of our presidential election. It also became the day that the state of Georgia’s first black senator and first Jewish senator were elected to the U.S. Senate. Instead Jan. 6, 2021, will be remembered as the day that a mob of insurrectionists dangerously breached our U.S. Capitol building and lives were lost inside its hallowed halls.

On Jan. 6, we found ourselves grappling with the same kind of disbelief, fear and anger that overcame us nearly two decades ago, when planes hijacked by international terrorists first struck the towers of the World Trade Center, on Sept. 11, 2001. Two weeks ago, the threat we were watching was domestic, it was coming from within.

We have overcome other tragedies in the past and emerged better for it. At the end of the tragic day of Sept. 11, 2001, all of the U.S. senators who had evacuated the Capitol because of a bomb threat, stood together on the Capitol steps and famously sang “God Bless America.” In much the same way, at the end of the recent tragic Wednesday, the members of both houses of our U.S. Congress worked into the wee hours of the night, completing the work the insurrectionists tried to derail and confirming the election of our nation’s 46th president.

American folk singer Woody Guthrie concluded his protest song “This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land” with the words “this land was made for you and me.” We all have to share this land — so we should endeavor to do so in peace and with mutual respect. We must find a way to truly help all Americans and our planet and put an end to divisive political rhetoric. We must find civil and constructive ways to agree to disagree.

Let us remember the words of former presidential candidate Robert Dole, who told us in his 1996 concession speech: “I’ve said repeatedly in this campaign that the president was my opponent, not my enemy.” Our leaders need to heed those words today when dealing with one another and the public. Each of us should heed these words by not treating those who disagree with us as enemies.

Our Torah teaches us that we have been given stewardship of the planet and that we should strive to repair the world. Respecting and caring for one another, we can work together to make our country and our world a better place.