Keith Anderson

Good people can change lives.

Good people can change nations.

But good people are nullified when they remain silent.

There are moments in U.S. history that every adult over the age of 20 can turn to as a crushing, almost unbelievable period that shocks the very foundation of what defines us as Americans.

Last Wednesday’s, Jan. 6, sickening riots and siege at the U.S. Capitol was one such moment. Surreal and helpless at the same time. But as shocking as it was, it certainly did not come without warning. And not just the warning of chatter among instigators that the FBI and other federal officials have now said they were monitoring leading up to that event, but because it is a symptom of a much larger problem.

We are a nation divided despite the very name we cling to, the United States.

We have not been united and will not be united until we understand each of us has responsibilities when it comes to protecting and growing our democracy. We cannot retreat to our homes every evening to cocoon ourselves from the problems of this world and expect our democracy to remain intact.

Each one of us has skills and talents that must be shared with others — or what is the point of living? Our democracy is a shared experience that cannot sustain itself when we devour everything within our reach for personal gain but ignore the serious hardships faced by our fellow citizens.

Our nation, our communities and our neighbors need all of us to participate in society for the benefit of the whole. If we don’t participate, somebody else will and the outcome may not be good, as was evidenced last Wednesday at our Capitol.

How does that happen, that a mob of Americans can descend on the Capitol and overtake law enforcement to gain entry and defile what we hold so dear? At the most basic level, it happens because security was unprepared for what happened. That is an immediate issue. But the underlying and certainly much larger issue for this country is our combined lack of involvement with the very government that is meant to help all of us.

When we elect representatives to Congress, our state legislatures, or even our city councils and school boards, our responsibility does not end with our vote.

We choose candidates and vote for individuals because we believe they will represent our beliefs and make decisions for the good of our communities, states and nation. But once they are elected, they cannot be left to make those decisions on their own. It takes people like you and me to communicate with them, to ensure they understand what is important to us or our community, what is best for our entire democracy, at every level of this country. If we don’t, they will make decisions on their own, they will be influenced by others and the seeds of disconnection will take root.

Good will always overcome evil, but not if good people do not stand up and get involved.

Your voice does matter. You have talent that can and must benefit those around you, but it cannot happen if you choose to stay in the haze. Democracy dies in the shadows, but will flourish in the light.

Now is that time for all Americans to step into the light and lead by example.

When you see injustice, work to create peaceful change. When you see violence, do not turn away and hope somebody else will fix it.

When you witness or experience abuse of power, make sure those who are responsible for it are held accountable. When lies are told, seek the truth and correct the lie.

Americans are given some of the greatest freedoms this world has to offer. But that gift is not free. It comes with the simple price of our involvement. Without our investment, freedom will not survive.

Good people change lives. Good people change nations. You are the good person who is needed now.

Keith Anderson is director of news for APG of East Central Minnesota

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