Pandemic Time: Replacing a Future We Dread with A Present We Can Handle

I am sitting outside, on my deck, looking at the garden at my feet⎼ red begonias, lavender impatiens, white zinnias and other flowers. It’s early morning. Last night there was, finally, a good rain. And although the sky is relatively clear and the sun is out, the air is beautifully cool. There is a sense in the air, or in me, that all this is fast disappearing. That I need to dig down deep into this moment before it, and all these flowers, are gone.

 

Part of this feeling is because it is the last week of August and summer is nearing its end. After teaching for 30 years, and going to school for nearly 20, August often feels like it’s a slide into autumn, into school and work with winter to follow.

 

This is especially true this year. Due to the pandemic, I have so much more unscheduled time, and so much time is absorbed by news reports and worries about the future. When will the pandemic end? Will there be a second wave? What new atrocities will DT commit? Will we have a constitution after November? With the election in front of us, the end of summer is fraught with so much more anxiety. And if we’re not observant, it could vacuum up all our attention.

 

Living through DT and the coronavirus in the spring, summer and even the fall, when we can be outside much of the time, is one thing. Doing it in winter will be much more difficult.

 

And how do we or our children face going back to school? There are just too many unknowns. Too many dangers. And whatever is decided about how school will look at the end of August or in September, could all change quickly and dramatically, as it did last spring. School used to be a stable part of our culture. No more. Very little of what used to provide stability and clarity can do that now.

 

So, how do we find a sense of stability and clarity during the time of the pandemic, or when everything inside us cries for, or dreads, dramatic change? When we can’t wait any longer for an end to the pandemics of the coronavirus and racism. When we want justice, now. When we want leaders who will put the needs of the nation and we, the people, first. No half measures are acceptable.  We want so much because things are so bad and so little is predictable.

 

Maybe we can find ways to work both on social-political issues and to find stability and clarity inside ourselves. By taking action, we show ourselves that we have the autonomy and strength to do so. We face our anxiety over the future by working now to create the future we need….

 

To read the whole article, go to The Good Men Project.

What Do You Do When There’s a Bear in the House? – Getting the Grizzly of Ignorance and Malignancy Out the Door

Last night, in a dream, a black bear was somehow in our apartment. We were a bit freaked and didn’t know what to do. I had an idea of opening the sliding glass doors so he could get outside. Of course, we don’t live in an apartment and we don’t have any sliding glass doors⎼ but it’s a dream. After I snuck around the bear toward the doors, I realized our dog, about the size of a Lab, was asleep by the doorway and I feared waking him. I didn’t know what he would do. Then the bear noticed the dog and jumped up on top of the bookcase near me. By the way, we also don’t have a dog, although I have been wanting one.

 

Suddenly discovering we have a bear in our home would definitely constitute a dramatic change in our daily routine. But a black bear is one of the smaller, less aggressive bears. I always thought they were cute until I saw the mangled mess one of them made of our bird feeder. But let’s imagine it was a grizzly in our home, a truly dangerous creature. What then?

 

And we do have a dangerous creature in our homes now or are afraid of one. Or afraid of two. There is a meme going around that we are faced with two pandemics, COVID-19 and ignorance⎼ the virus and the ignorant, incompetent and malignant response to it by DT. Most people facing a bear in their dreams, or awake, would hopefully avoid panic and open that door, push the dog out of the way, and let the bear out. But right now, many of us are afraid and feel powerless and don’t know how to get the grizzly out the door. But maybe we can simultaneously take care of ourselves  as we take care of our world.

 

The Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote a prose-poem just after World War II about the Holocaust. Many of us know it. It was a confession of how German intellectuals and the Church stood by as one group after another was murdered by Nazis. “First, they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist… Then the trade unionists…then the socialists… then the Jews…Then they came for me.” The Nazis were the grizzly in the house of the Germans and instead of forcing the grizzly out, they invited it to stay. And millions were killed.

 

Today, DT is acting with almost as much evil as the Nazis, and the GOP is supporting what he does. But about 52% of us or more are quite aware of the malignant grizzly in our nation. Almost three years ago thousands, or hundreds of thousands spoke out when the GOP tried to end the ACA and destroy our health care system. We demonstrated in the streets and Congressional offices and called Congress. And we stopped that legislation. Of course, the pandemic greatly limits what political action we can take today to oppose him. But how many of us are calling Congress now?…

 

DT wants us to forget and feel powerless. We can’t give him what he wants. When we don’t act, we feel burdened by what we don’t do. When we act out of care and compassion, we feel strengthened. We protect not only ourselves but others. We push the grizzly of ignorance and malignancy out the door.

 

To read the whole post, go to The Good Men Project.

Lies Are Killing People: Lies and Caring Only for One’s Own Power

On Thursday, 4/2, Ari Melber, on his MSNBC program, interviewed Kirsten Gillibrand and later talked with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and others. I greatly appreciated Senator Gillibrand saying “we need truthtellers now.” And Dr. Emanuel continuing with this theme, saying we have to pay attention to facts. Lies are killing people.

 

The Coronavirus is making it abundantly clear what half of the population of the US already knew—not only that DT lies, constantly. Not only does he do so to serve his own self-interest or express his ignorance. But these lies are dangerous. They can and are, right now, killing people. We have to combat the lies, distortions, fake news in order to save not only ourselves but the lives of all those we care about.

 

Likewise, earlier in the week Senator Chris Coons (D, Delaware), and on Friday, Rachel Maddow, talked about the fact that DT, just like George Bush with Katrina, and most of the “reduce government” GOP, feel it is not their job to save lives in a crisis, not their job to organize the manufacture and supply of medical equipment or relief aid.

 

In fact, according to CNN and recordings of the “news conference,” on Thursday, 4/2, DT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now in charge of the coronavirus relief effort, chastised governors for asking the Federal Government to send the medical supplies in its stockpiles to the cities and states that desperately need them. At one point, Kushner even said that the federal stockpile of emergency medical supplies is not meant for the states. “It’s supposed to be our stockpile.” The CNN article questioned who did Kushner mean by “our?” I wonder. Did he mean the Trump family? Or the Federal government? If he meant the latter, the Federal Government, clearly that would mean the people of this nation who need them, right? If he meant the former, he shouldn’t be in charge of anything in the government.

 

But maybe the Trump family is exactly what he meant. Kushner’s father-in-law told Vice President Pence to ignore the calls for aid by Governors who did not show appreciation for him. Some states, like Florida, led by devotees of DT, got all the aid they asked for, and quickly. Others still haven’t seen all or any equipment. Meanwhile, DT outbid Governors for needed supplies.

 

Since he became President, DT ignored warnings of a possible pandemic and ignored warnings about this pandemic. He cut funds for the CDC, NSC, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to fight global diseases and dismantled the White House team in charge of global health security.

 

According to the New York Times, he has invoked the Defense Production Act hundreds of thousands of times to help the military.  But now, when so many lives are at stake, he won’t actually use it. There is no rational reason for this behavior except that he doesn’t think it is in the best interests of corporations to use this power, or he thinks it is not in his best interest to end the crisis quickly, and not his job to serve the best interests of most of the people of this nation. This is one aspect of what “smaller government” means to him and to many in the GOP.

 

It is not just that DT is totally unsuited for the Presidency but that he will use anything, even a pandemic, as a means to serve his own ends, even if those means end up sacrificing the nation.

 

We need to get or stay healthy, and when we can, make calls, write letters, put up signs, do everything we can not only to vote but to get others out to vote in November, and secure mail-in ballots for all. As we can now see, our lives might depend on it.

 

*This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.