When we live in a world where we feel we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, we succumb to a spiritual plague. It erodes the fabric of cooperation and equality, as well as the symbiosis that allows for us to have safe, healthy living environments. When we look at those trying to dismantle our democracy, we can see ‘doing whatever, whenever’ as a symptom of a bigger problem that is chipping away at the health of our government.
I want to acknowledge the role of the custodial staff, in particular the people of color, at the U.S. Capitol, who cleaned the mess and damage left by a right-wing white supremacist mob on January 6. There were feces, blood and broken glass that had to be wiped and swept. I doubt the mob ever thought twice about who would clean up after them. They apparently believed that the message they were trying to convey was more important than treating other humans with dignity.
“People believe that they can do and say whatever they want without consequence.”
I value the importance of the home, and the Capitol Building is the symbolic home of our democracy. My mission is to promote equality and personal responsibility in the domestic sphere, but I can’t help but apply that lens to the enormous problems facing our country.
Because these problems are reflected in our homes as well.
There is a plague that is attacking the heart of the American people. People believe that they can do and say whatever they want without consequence. The spirit of hatred, and this perceived invincibility, stems from the fear of engaging with and exploring the depths of love. It’s the egocentric, rugged individualist attitude that stinks up the house—the same spirit we saw in those who tried, unsuccessfully, to take down our democracy.
It’s as if individualism has stripped us from all sense of community and consideration for our fellow citizens.
Other people are impacted by your attitude and behavior; you cannot do or say whatever you want without consequence. It’s all too familiar within the home to hear someone say, “I’m not good at cleaning,” or “I would be wasting my time because you can do this so much better than I can” or simply “I’m too tired.”
These everyday phrases shirk personal responsibility, in the form of misogynist microaggressions against the people with whom we share our lives. If you make the mess, you should clean it up.
If we take a real look at how deep the issues are in our homes and our country, we may finally be able to identify and reverse patriarchal attitudes and strategic incompetence that has unjustly and unfairly subjugated women, people of color and other marginalized groups.
After the fear of being humbled is overcome by every person in the home, the truth of equality can be realized, economic and healthcare divides can be remedied, and the narrative governing these things can be reversed.
We can take an inspired look when contemplating the idea of a fresh start for our government with the renewal that comes with spring cleaning. However, like any true and lasting change, we have to combat the status quo with a good look at the dirt that is overlooked in our personal lives, and in our own hearts. It can be overwhelming. Though we may all feel hope, we can also get mired down in the sticky details.
When we get stuck, we can attach ourselves to something bigger to pull us out of indifference. Stand in solidarity with those who rose to the occasion when they cleaned up after the mess left by the insurrectionists. Let yourself absorb and confront the reality that they are people worthy of honor every single day.
Participate by taking the time to hit your own reset button and by recognizing the value of what your helping hands have to offer those who are right in front of you. It is a lot of work to clean up your own messes.
Collectively we can set our goals high, to make our democracy one where a plurality of cultures are heard, represented and celebrated. And the best place to start is with ourselves. This includes understanding our own privilege, acknowledging problems with the status quo and deciding to change. Within the home, this might be deconstructing gender norms, adjusting spending habits and connecting to the broader community.
The way that we clean up our home and our country is one and the same: With a hopeful heart, using our helpful hands to create the change that we want to see.
Lois Volta is a home consultant, musician and founder of Volta Naturals. loisvolta.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.