Teresa Morris

Re: “A Redlands mother calls for unity,” Juliet Wozniak, Jan. 29.

I am pleased to see that Juliet Wozniak has asked Redlands to begin a discussion of the meaning of unity in the current social environment. She is asking us to contact our elected leaders and, after the trauma of Jan. 6, urge them to stop the “hate speech, and their rhetoric, and their name calling.”

We can all certainly get behind that idea.

However, she goes on to suggest that impeaching Donald Trump for his role in the attempted coup and insurrection on Jan. 6 is not the way to unite those who have a positive vision for the country. I would like to offer a different perspective on how we achieve unity.

I think our first step to unity is to come to an agreement about what we saw and what we heard on Jan. 6. I saw an angry mob listen to the then-president of the United States incite them to march to the capitol and fight. I saw that mob march to the capitol, break into the capitol, threaten to murder our elected representatives, and actually murder one police officer while injuring 140 other police officers.

I saw a noose outside the capitol intended for Mike Pence. I saw this mob walk away from their crime scene, free, while chanting “Trump invited us here.”

I saw, mostly white, insurrectionists exercising their white privilege.

If we can all agree that this is what we saw and what we heard, then the next step to unity is to ask ourselves what this means and what we should do about it. This is where the debate can become confrontational and we can all be accused of “name calling.”  

What does it mean that, after months of lying about the results of an election, the then-president of the United States incited an insurrection? What should we do about that?

If we decide that we should do nothing because he is no longer president and unity means we “move on” without insisting on consequences for the former president, we shall surely fail. This would be like coming upon a motor accident where injured bodies are lying on the road and deciding that, because whoever caused the accident has left the scene, we should simply drive on without doing anything about it. We cannot “drive on” until we take care of the damage that was done by the accident to the lives of those involved and punish the person who caused the accident.

Likewise, we cannot solve all the important issues that Wozniak lists, if we are surrounded by the damage of Jan. 6. We cannot just walk over the rubble and pretend that we trust each other to do what is best for the country.

We cannot hold hands with elected representatives who, after the attempted coup, voted to deny the results of the election anyway. Like any family, we have to “have this out” with each other. We have to debate and, yes, argue about what happened, what it means and what we should do about that.

Then we can truly unify to address the pandemic, rebuild the economy, and restore our lives. So, my message to my elected representative, U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, is keep doing what you are doing.

Teresa Morris is professor emerita of social work. She has lived in Redlands for 31 years.