Dear Orchard Friends and Families,
As I write this note I am following the news coverage of our nation’s capital
after armed and violent protestors have broken into the Capitol building and interrupted the electoral count. Members of Congress have been evacuated, a woman on the Capitol grounds has been shot, and the National Guard has been activated. We are witnessing our fellow citizens directly attack and disrupt the work, people, and places of our national government, challenging our resolve as a nation and the foundations of our democracy.
We are better than this. We have a shared obligation to look towards our founding documents and our democratic principles to support peaceful and lawful transitions of power, and peaceful and lawful dissent. What we are witnessing today is not peaceful, lawful, or democratic. What we are witnessing today is not right. And what we are witnessing today means that each of us has an obligation to denounce the violence and destruction that is happening in Washington, D.C. by a small group of people who do not represent the vast majority of our fellow Americans.
Like you, I’m thinking about how to explain this to my children. Like you, I’m wondering how to ensure that they understand that we have time-honored ways to engage in peaceful dissent while honoring our nation’s laws, and ideals, and aspirations. Before I have that conversation with my sons, I will take a few moments to privately acknowledge my own anger and sorrow, and remind myself of what it means to be an engaged citizen who exercises the responsibilities of democracy. I will plan for a conversation with Emmet and Owen that is clear, direct, factual, and calm. I will assure them that they are safe, and that the people in Washington, D.C. will be safe, too. And I will remind them of the democratic ideals that our country is founded upon, and how they can use their voices to make a difference, not just in the future, but now.
And then, most important of all, I will listen to what they have to say.
Although our hearts are heavy, we are a community and a nation that can and must rise above this and do the work of democracy. We owe that to each other, and to our children, as we think about the future they will inherit and lead. This is our shared work and responsibility in the days and weeks ahead.
Sherri C. Helvie, Ph.D.
Head of School