I woke up this morning and scrolled through social media before getting up for my 7am zoom writing group. Its a ritual I have begun. Both scrolling and writing. The last few weeks I have dreaded what I will see, yet still feel compelled to look. To stay connected. Even if I see comments I completely disagree with. It’s my way of trying to gain some understanding of the other side. About the disaster of our nations current state.
The first post I saw was a powerful black and white photo of a protest sign that reads, “I love my country. I'm ashamed of my government.”
Yes, you can be both. In a world that demands we all take a side. There are still shades of grey. The beauty of the American dream. That anyone can be anything. Although it seems to be evaporating along with the state of our nation. While our businesses are suffering. Our communities are breaking down. Our schools are staying closed. Our economy at a stand still while we look a Great Depression in the eye. In the threshold of an out of control pandemic that half of us deny exists. While the rest of the world has seemed to handle in unity.
I see the comments. Those who refuse to wear a mask. Believing, in the name of liberty and freedom, it's their right to make someone else sick. While expecting essential workers to feel sufficient. Or refusing to wear a mask, claiming it cuts off oxygen. Its unsafe. While we expect nurses and doctors to wear and reuse them indoors, for multiple shifts, while saving the lives of those who didn't take this seriously. I see another picture in the comments of a protest sign with a mask and a cross through it with the words "My body. My choice."
I can't stomach it. A bubble forms deep in my gut. I scroll down.
Next, I come across a Vegan post that reads, “Compassion saves lives. Yours and theirs.” With a picture of a cute spotted baby pig looking right into the camera.
A sadness washes over me. Followed by a twinge of realism. Compassion would save lives, but where is it? The little that we collectively had. For each other. For our country as a whole. For our well being. Now, only if it doesn't disrupt our routine. If it isn't an inconvenience. Doesn't disturb our comfort. While we have no plan to stop the spread, and pretend it will all go away. 5 months into this pandemic. Attempting to will it away. Even after we learned from China the pathogen can't be hidden. It will only continue to spread. Yet, here we are. Pretending it will. As hospitals fill. As healthcare is overwhelmed. As we run out of PPE. Again.
This cute little piggy does deserve compassion. So do the elderly. The sick. Those in poverty without health insurance and underlining conditions because they can't afford medical care. All while hearing how "well our economy has been." The innocent souls who are being personally effected by the systematic bullshit we have let go on for far too long.
Covid. Racism. Denial. All pathogens, viruses, that share the commonality of only being acknowledged if an American's personal life is directly effected. Just an illusion until it knocks on our own door. Until it threatens our own family. Takes our own life. While we pretend it will all be ok. When it isn't. When it might not be.
I take a breath. The bubble festers. Multiplying quickly. Spreading from my stomach throughout my chest. I scroll down.
Next, I see a facebook post of a mother ranting about schools not opening. Asking why don’t we care about our children’s future. How the chances are slim our children will get critically ill.
But "slim chances" isn't good enough. We don't know the long term effects of this new virus. While New York had significant child cases of a Kawasaki like disease and blood clots after children tested positive. My child will not be a guinea pig in a pandemic because we can't muster up a thoughtful and effective plan. Or be considerate, take care of each other and wear a simple mask. That's my freedom. That's my liberty. To protect my child from a society that denies the risk and assumes he is disposable.
What about the teachers health? The under paid, under appreciated teachers, who have been demoted from educators to "child care". Risking their health for the miniscule income they make. Without any discussion of emergency pay or recognition of their occupations being "essential". With no confirmation of safety from children transmitting the disease to them or family.
Yet, the demand to reopen. The force. Or else funding will get cut. The day after the C.D.C. was stripped of control of Corona virus data. After lie after lie. Leaving us wondering if we will ever receive true statistics. Questioning if falsely opening the economy for re election is more important than public safety. Then the truth. If our national health is as important as temporary popularity.
The bubbles expand within me and my stomach churns. But I don't scroll. I stare at this "No School" picture instead. I close my eyes. My head still on my pillow. I take a deep breath.
What I really want to say is... We all want the economy open. But at what expense? This is beyond politics. This is the survival of who we are. This is about being United. About safety for all. I know its possible. Other countries have succeeded. If not, our economy won't come back. People won't dine out. People won't spend money. Businesses will continue to close. Schools won't reopen. Teachers won't feel safe. If there isn't trust, it won't work.
This virus, this living thing, isn't disputing its existence or expelling energy to disagree. It is not distracted. Its only goal is to survive. To win the fight, don't we need to have the same tenacity? The same clarity. The same common goal. The persistence to survive. Physically. Emotionally. Financially. Mentally. Spiritually. Together. Remembering who we inherently are. One nation. Under God. Indivisible. It is the only way we win. It's the only way we have always won.
Or we can pretend. Cases continue increasing. Breaking hospitalization records day after day. As unemployment runs out. Jobs evaporate. Schools remain closed. We can continue to crumble. Continue to pretend we don't see it. These cracks surfacing because they have to. Because we are internally broken. The country itself now screaming out in pain. Screaming for help. Screaming for change. Will we continue pretending we don't see it?
God, I want to unleash this all on this poor woman's page, and hope it spreads, like a plague. I hope my frustration, my fury is contagious. I hope it infects others and gets people mad enough to do something. Take a stand. Make an effort to unify. To put all the difference of opinions aside and come together for the greater good. I am proud of our principals. Of our freedom. Of what we used to represent. We have separated. I hope we can come back to who we inherently are. What we were founded on. Back to our name. United. Not restored. Better. Stronger. With liberty and justice for all. I am proud of my country. I also am ashamed of my government. Yes, you can be both. I think "Compassion saves lives. Yours and theirs." I pray we find it. I am done pretending. I have opened my eyes. Its 6:55. Its time to get up and take action. I have a zoom writing group in minutes.