I have been trying to remain optimistic during this pandemic.
But this past week, I have struggled to maintain a positive outlook.
Many things have contributed to my strife – the politicization of the health crisis; the delayed delivery of the $8 billion in direct emergency relief from the CARES Act to Native nations, which are among the hardest hit by COVID-19; families unable to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads; and the armed militia that stormed the statehouse in Michigan to “protest” against the governor’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order (even though nearly 80 percent of Michiganders support continuing the stay-at-home order) .
These militia people, once again, highlighted the fact that different Americans have different First Amendment rights – I will not state the obvious about the outcome of this scenario, if the people in the armed mob had more melanin in their skin.
From my vantage point, it is clear that no stay-at-home order was keeping any of these people at home. These are the same people who claim “Blue Lives Matter”, yet yell (unmasked) directly into the faces of masked law enforcement officers. There actions and rhetoric indicate that “No Lives Matter.”
Downplaying the lethal impact of the virus with messages like “Freedom isn’t free” and “I want my job back” these people apparently had the freedom to show up at the statehouse and ignore the CDC’s recommendations to cover your face and maintain physical distancing. They also had the freedom to defy logic (at last count, there were nearly 70,000 deaths in the United States and nearly a quarter million worldwide and the United States had nearly 1.2 million of the 3.5 million confirmed cases worldwide).
This “protest” was clearly about power, plain and simple. This was not a peaceful demonstration. It was about intimidation – for what other reason would “protesters” need to wear body armor and carry assault rifles?
I want to know if Americans of good will – particularly, my brothers and sisters with less melanin — are going to allow this small group of (gun-toting, “the government is not going to tell me what to do”) people to have the last say?
My hope is that the majority will not be silent and will operate out of an understanding that “law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress” (the words of Martin Luther King Jr.).
And to those who are dividing us into two pandemic camps – one that sees COVID-19 as a health crisis and one that sees it as an economic crisis – I say it is BOTH … AND (lest we forget that many Americans were in economic crisis before the coronavirus, most because of economic injustices).
Any plan to move forward MUST protect us from health risks and provide Americans with the economic means to survive without hardship.
These are trying times, but we are stronger together.
(Oh, don’t worry about my struggle to remain positive, I’m a resilient optimist– I bend but don’t break and use adversity/strife as a compass. I believe adversity can guide us to our vision, our voice, our calling, if we learn to suffer well).