Despite numbing tragedies, may we act
Even the addition of a "cares" emoji, the options of like, love, surprise, sad and anger emojis in response to Facebook postings are inadequate. I would prefer a thumbs down option, along with outrage, along with let's act. I found a thumbs down emoji and a letter writing one, but they still seem inadequate.
Outrage is more than anger that goes nowhere or breaks into violence. It it calls for speaking out and doing something in the tradition of nonviolent persistence, not just be a bystander expressing opinions with emojis.
The reports of George Floyd's suffocation as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into George's neck stir outrage a social media response cannot contain. People went to the streets protesting in that city.
Someone juxtaposed the photo of the officer's knee on the African American's neck beside the image of football quarterback Colin Kapernick dropping to a knee during the national anthem to challenge the country to recognize that Black Lives Matter. It poignantly answered why he did that.
On top of that is the disproportionately high incidence of and deaths from COVID-19 among the Navajo nation, other native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic farm and food workers in Yakima. Through Refugee Connections, we learned that 74 or 2.7 percent of Spokane's 3,000 Marshall Islanders tested positive, in contrast to about 500 of 500,000 in the region.
Nationally, we passed 100,000 deaths. To move beyond the numbness from mounting statistics, media at least are telling stories of individuals who have died.
Behind the scenes of pandemic news, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, other environmental regulations and nuclear treaties are falling by the wayside. More national lands are being gobbled up by fossil fuel interests and billions more dollars subsidize them. It's heartening that faith communities are not deterred from their witness and are divesting their portfolios from fossil fuel industries and investing in sustainable energy.
As media chase, lap up and analyze every presidential tweet, it's important to offer a reminder of equal time as the campaign season begins and to identify how media play into propaganda as they repeat the photo, name and words of one person, rarely noting any other candidates, for any other office.
The reality, as many are saying, is that we do not need to return to what was normal before COVID-19 or three years ago. We need a new normal.
COVID-19 exacerbates the racial, gender and economic divides. With losing jobs, people are losing their health insurance, revealing the folly of the employer-based health insurance system. When one loses a job, one loses health insurance coverage.
So many issues are cycling around in the midst of the loss of so many lives from the disease and from racial discrimination.
What are you doing? What is your faith community doing beyond being caught up in whether to worship in person, when and how? How are our faiths dismantling racism?
We must join efforts of the NAACP Spokane, Spokane County Human Rights Task Force, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Rights, Spokane Coalition of Color, Spokane Coalition Against Racism, Carl Maxey Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, and other groups educating and advocating to end racism. It's time to join, support and act.
Let's not let the number of 100,000 deaths, which will continue to mount, numb us from caring and acting, or blind us to the obvious inequities.
Let this be a summer of action—even if by virtual meetings and protests, letter writing, emails and phone calls. Our faith calls us to care for people's lives and social justice. May we persevere through numbing clouds of disaster and death to connect, care and act.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2020