This past week, you became witness to the shocking events at our nation’s Capitol. While it is hard to find appropriate words, remaining silent is no option.

We got here because our society has cancer, the stage that is metastasizing and now threatening the very foundation of our democracy. The necessary treatment must be deliberate and precise so as not to do more harm. As we attempt to personally do our part, know you are walking a tight-rope. Practice your next step today. Try to remain steady. 

Unlike Covid-19, the current political crisis is entirely man-made, which makes it an even greater threat than the devastating coronavirus pandemic. There will be no vaccine for the human tendency to be “othering” people in the misguided belief that putting someone down is a good approach to increasing one’s self-worth. Don’t fall into that trap.

Remember that however frustrated or angry you may be, hating anyone or anything is like swallowing a poison pill and expecting the subject of your ire to be hurt. By hating, you are only poisoning yourself. 

No human being is as bad as the worst thing he or she has ever done. Lawbreakers must, and will face consequences, yet all forms of peaceful protest are an expression of injury, hurt, or injustice of some kind. We ignore those cries for help at our common peril.

Maybe we have such a hard time understanding each other because we don’t know how to listen. Maybe in addition to reading, writing, math and science, should we also teach listening?

Crises are the ultimate teachers. Listen to them. Learn from them. Watch how people react to them. Observe who is trying to extinguish the fire and who is fanning the flames.

When you get overwhelmed, give yourself permission to step away, to take care of you first. And when the anxiety subsides – as it always does – keep watching, learning, and asking questions. For one thing we know for sure, remaining silent is not a good option.

Thomas Jacobs


Thomas Jacobs is a Riverside resident and member of the RBHS District 208 Board of Education. He read this letter in his capacity as a private citizen at the Jan. 12 meeting of the D208 school board.