Our country approached 100,000 dead from COVID-19, fittingly, over Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure you saw The New York Times piece An Incalculable Loss that listed all the names. It was all over social media.
I remember on September 11, 2001 when then New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was asked about the death toll. “The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear” he said. (CBS News). The number of lives lost in the September 11 attacks is but about 3% the number of lives lost in the U.S. (to date) due to this pandemic.
And then there are the others lost to another type of pandemic; human beings whose final stories are punctuated with a hash tag: #BlackLivesMatter. I ran on May 8 in memory of Ahmaud Arbery on what should have been his 26th Birthday, then in the last week I have read countless posts about the murder of George Floyd. My head hurts. This all has to stop.
Ten weeks of staying at home hasn’t really been all that difficult. I am grateful that we have had the opportunity to keep working, even though the idea that could change weights heavy on our minds. I am grateful that we and our loved ones have remained healthy. I am grateful for the privilege I’ve had my entire life.
I understand the push to open back up. I can imagine the difficult toll this would have taken on my parents’ restaurant and gift shop so long ago and what this is doing to small business owners. But what is the price of premature decisions? Endangering the lives of the very people we are trying to help? If we are able to go out and do the things we once did, are people going to cooperate and follow recommendations for everyone’s safety like wearing a mask or keeping a distance? Based on what I’m seeing, answer is, sadly, they’re not.
One of the things my parents – and most of their generation – understood was sacrifice for the greater good. They were children of the depression and the young adults that supported the right side of history during World War II. They were the people who fought for the rights that many of those of privilege take for granted today.
We are living in a world were we’ve taken so many steps backward. I’ve witnessed hopelessness and much cynicism among our young people and I believe the difference is that all they’ve seen is examples of failed leadership. It is hard for them to create a vision for the life they want to live. The path between what that might look like and where they are now seems so daunting (The unluckiest generation in U.S. history, The Washington Post). Especially when people aren’t willing to work together for the greater good.
I don’t know what the answer is and I realize this post is a bit of a ramble. The challenges seem monumental; the solutions require buy-in from far too many than I think are willing to cooperate. But maybe we start with ourselves. Check our privilege. Think of others. Act for the greater good. Be part of a solution, not the problem. It’s a start.
“Observe who you won’t yield to, then think about why. Observe others who won’t yield to others, then think about why.” – Lori Lakin Hutcherson, A letter to friends who really want to end racism, GoodBlackNews.org.