The Y has a long, proud history of encouraging participation in our nation’s democracy. The storming of the U.S. Capitol yesterday—a mob action spurred by divisive rhetoric, disinformation and bad faith—was an affront to this important work and our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. I condemn it in the strongest terms possible, and I hope those who incited violence and broke the law are held accountable and that peace prevails. My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives or were injured and their loved ones.
I take some comfort that the election certification rioters hoped to disrupt continued and was completed. I am grateful for the resolve of the elected officials and civil servants who discharged their duties undeterred and honored our nation’s democratic values in support of the Constitution. Our democracy held, but yesterday was a stark reminder that it is fragile, and preserving it requires people of courage, character and good faith. People of all ages, races, genders, backgrounds and political perspectives. People who believe in the promise of this nation and are willing to work purposefully to fulfill it.
A thriving democracy takes all of us. We cannot allow the anti-democratic sentiment that fueled yesterday’s events—so much of it grounded in hate and tribalism— to gain strength. We must work toward common ground characterized by equity, decency and truth.
Bringing people together is what the Y does best. We will continue to do our part to help people from all walks of life find common ground and promote civil society. And we will continue to invest in young changemakers and look to them for leadership. One of the great joys of my job is spending time with young people from across the country who participate in the Y’s Youth and Government program, which teaches them to value good-spirited debate, servant leadership and the power of public policy to improve lives. The program’s motto—“Democracy must be learned by each generation” – is particularly relevant right now. Young people are the primary source of my hope for the future, and time spent with our Youth and Government participants always confirms the wisdom of my optimism.
Today is a new day. The Y looks forward to partnering with the new Administration and the new Congress in the weeks and months ahead to advance funding and policies that support our work to strengthen communities. Because at its best, our democracy is capable of this and much more.
President and CEO
YMCA of the USA
Thursday, January 07, 2021