As a state and a nation we find ourselves struggling to comprehend the attack on our Capitol last week. I have gone from shocked, to scared, to angry, to sad.

Never in my lifetime would I ever have fathomed something like this would happen in our country. The divisiveness and visceral and utter hatred that some in our society seem to hold for one another is unconscionable, and yet here we are. We are a nation polarized. And while the attack on our republic most certainly impacted the very heart of our democracy, it did not and will not break us.

This visceral divide did not occur overnight; nor will it be repaired overnight. However, I remain optimistic that we will indeed recover, together.

I respect that we may all have differences of opinions and varying approaches to policy, but I have always believed that our common denominator is our love for our country. Unfortunately, that common denominator – our love for our country, love for our United States of America, for our constitutional republic – has been compromised.

The events leading up to last Wednesday’s assault on our democracy and the events which have unfolded since, are reminders that words have consequences. The language we use matters, and as leaders, we must be ever mindful that people do indeed listen to what we say.

At a time of unprecedented political polarization in our country, with our republic being severely fractured, it is more important than ever that we come together to find and recognize our commonalities — the love of our country — and to build upon what we have in common so that we can emerge stronger and united.

We have seen through the ongoing global pandemic incredible acts of kindness and collective sacrifice, identifying who I genuinely believe we are as a society. Sadly, we have now lived through what most certainly will be viewed as one of the greatest tragedies of our lifetimes.

I am heartened that we can and will recover, together. However, it will be a long road. In the face of adversity, we can find opportunity — opportunity for us to consider one another, despite our differences. And from these opportunities, I see hope — hope that collectively we will find this common ground, hope that we will consider one another with empathy and compassion. I can and will hold my thoughts of optimism for hope, for our country, concurrent with my thoughts about holding those accountable for this despicable attack on our democracy.

Yale psychology professor Jennifer Richeson told documentary film producers of “Divided We Fall: Unity Without Tragedy,” “The need for us to recognize our common humanity could not be any more clear. The challenges we currently face and those to come in the wake of this pandemic require us to expand our circle of concern beyond our families, local communities and, certainly, our political affiliations.”

The pandemic and its far-reaching impacts, along with the political climate, have put incredible stress and strain on all of us. If you need support, please know you are not alone and that there are resources to help. Visit www.strengthenME.com for free stress management, wellness and resiliency resources. You can also find resources through 211 Maine by phone call, text, email or at 211maine.org.

I will continue to hold hope and promise to work hard to unite, what has been deeply divided.

We are, after all, the UNITED States of America.

Rep. Lori K. Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, is serving her second term in the Maine House. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than 30 years of experience in social advocacy.

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