What do we do about the world today? We sure are in a mess.
Since March, the COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted our communities and systems. Education ceased to be what we knew before. Community groups and gatherings no longer were possible. Things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and elastic became hard to find. Friends stopped seeing each other to visit, talk, share a cup of coffee or a meal. Families have endured forced separation. For some, the separation occurred even during the end of life moments when love is the last scrap of something true and good we can offer. Life changed. What once was deemed important no longer seemed significant.
There have been minor eruptions of passionate opinions about when to open businesses, restart the economy, and even whether or not to wear a mask. I use the term minor to describe those events because now we find ourselves in the midst of a larger eruption, one I fear that has been bubbling below the surface for years. This eruption is the call for social justice spurred by a man who had his life’s breath snuffed out by the knee of a person in a role we are told to trust to uphold our laws.
Therefore, I ask, What are we to do?
In a country already lacking leadership, we now have explosive acts of violence and property destruction in the name of stopping violence and injustice to those, for some reason, we feel are not like ourselves. Violence should not beget more violence. The acts of vandalism and destruction are not helpful. These events rub salt in our proverbial wounds. The loss of George Floyd’s life was bad enough – despicable, in fact. But, now more violence and destruction, hurting and looting? For what purpose? Surely, those perpetrating these acts cannot think they are helping bring attention to the root of our problems. They are mere, albeit devastating, distractions to the truths we must all face.
We are all humans, are we not? Why can’t a sentient species that has the intelligence to send men into space just get along with each other, no matter what our ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, or colors of our skin? We are all humans. We all feel. We all eat, sleep, drink, and yes – breathe. Why can we not live in peace, tolerance, empathy, and respect?
I do not know what the answers are for this very sad time in our history. It is a time that seems to be repeating from earlier centuries, both close and far, when humans did not learn the lessons that were being taught. We did not learn enough to change and prevent atrocities. We did not.
And, underneath all the events of the last week, we are still fighting a biological enemy. For the pandemic still rages. Life-changing decisions need to be considered and made regarding the return to or alterations of our systems, as well. We cannot afford to further divide a country that has already been made weakened and vulnerable by a new virus.
I ask you to consider this: have you lived anywhere other than where you are living now? I am not referring to your house or town or even county or state. But, somewhere else – where you did not grow up, live a length of time, or had family and friends within a few miles. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you felt alone, fearful, and out of place? Have you felt unnecessarily judged by others? Unwelcomed and unwanted even though there were many other humans with you? If so, I ask you to think about how you felt and how you can use those feelings to develop empathy for others – other humans, just like us because we are the same species just with widely differing experiences. Acceptance. Tolerance. Love. Patience and Kindness. We must ALL strive to become physical embodiments of these attributes.
One human is not better than another. One race does not have power over another. One belief system does not prevail. We are supposedly a species that can think. Let’s start by doing that – think of others, think of similarities and solutions, not differences. Think of the golden rule. Please think.
We must do better. We must.
So, I ask again, What do we do now?