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Hopefully what happened Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., is not a glimpse into our nation’s future.

Watching in real time on live TV as an angry mob overpowered the police and temporarily seized control of a building known throughout the world as the heart of our nation’s democracy marked a new low for our country.

What happened must serve as a wake-up call to all of us that America is in distress and this divisive path we’re on only promises to deliver more and worse unrest.

Remove the American flags being carried by the protesters rampaging through our Capitol and the scene could have easily been mistaken for the aftermath of a presidential election in a far off place like the Ukraine where peaceful exchanges of power aren’t the norm.

Five people including a police officer died as a result of Wednesday’s riot. Several others — protesters and law enforcement officers alike — suffered injuries. The Capitol was vandalized and looted.

It’s not difficult to imagine the painful episode being even worse, considering all of the undetonated explosives left behind by the protesters.

America’s enemies such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran were surely watching the unrest with smiles on their faces.

They realize that they need not put any effort into causing America’s demise because Americans are doing it themselves.

There’s also no doubt that our nation’s enemies took notice of how easily the protesters were able to overwhelm the Capitol’s security force.

But increasing Capitol security will be easy compared to achieving any sort of healing of the division that’s tearing our nation apart.

One of the big takeaways from Wednesday’s riot is that words matter.

When the president of the United States and many Republican members of Congress tell the world again and again that the election was stolen, the fix was in and President-elect Joe Biden actually didn’t win, the end result promised to be outrage and violence.

Who cares if judges appointed by Donald Trump, the president’s own attorney general and Republican election officials in many states said that the election’s results were legitimate and Biden was without a doubt the winner.

We have to wonder if this is what presidential elections will look like in the future. If so, how will our nation survive such a new normal?

But the more important question is where as Americans do we go from here?

It could be argued that all of us have contributed to the divisiveness plaguing our nation. Americans need to not only relearn how to disagree without being disagreeable, but to undo the prevalent mindset that anyone with a different point of view than you is not just wrong but is the enemy.

Our nation’s divisions are worsened when violent protests that result in people being killed and injured and businesses being looted and destroyed are either legitimized or demonized by our political leaders depending on the issue at hand.

It’s encouraging that what happened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday is being called a riot by both Republicans and Democrats because that’s what it was.

America didn’t find itself in this mess overnight but Wednesday’s Capitol riot should have gotten everyone’s attention and our response needs to be anything but staying the course.

We can either look at what happened on Wednesday and admit our nation has some big problems to solve or we can continue on a path that will surely put America on the ash heap of history.

Make no mistake about it, an angry mob taking control of a nation’s Capitol is the stuff of bloody revolutions and civil wars.

Let’s hope that the sacking of our Capitol truly marks a turning point for America rather than becoming just another chapter in our eventual demise.