Over the last year, I have not had much of an urge to write or blog. I felt like there was already so much information and noise around us. Why do I need to add more to what is out there? Surely there is more than enough stuff on our social media feeds to keep us busy all-day long if we wanted to. So I simply went on and did my thing, minded my own business, busied myself with art-related things and everything was pretty much alright.
Then, Covid-19 happened. I really thought 2020 was going to play out like any other “beginning-of-a-decade’ type of year. The economy will continue to be robust. Sure, there will be societal tensions and problems and the insane politicking before the big presidential election in the U.S. in November. But there was no way I would have imagined (nor did you, I’m sure) that we would going through a pandemic right now. With Covid-19, I realized that I cannot be silent anymore.
The pandemic feels like we are living in wartime with an enemy that is largely invisible except to those who suffer from its’ symptoms and those who have to fight against the disease while we stay at home. I feel impotent and disempowered because there is not much we can do other than to stay home and be healthy. The little support I can provide in forms of donating canned goods to food pantries and helping my children prepare baked goods for health care workers just seem minimal and passive. I know, I know, it’s the little things that count for now. But still.
I cannot suppress the feelings I have right now, in terms of injustice in how this pandemic is disproportionately affecting those who are poor and colored. It makes me sad that in 2020 the inequality of race and money determines who dies and who does not. It breaks my heart to know that so many of these individuals do not have the luxury of sheltering at home. Sure, we, the lucky ones, can flatten the curve at home but these folks cannot let the fear of getting sick stop them from going to work or they will get fired.
And yet, we see the other side of the equation rear its head this weekend — freedom-loving Americans protesting against lockdown restrictions in their respective states while flouting social distancing rules. When did we as a society lose our solidarity and our desire of doing what is good for society as a whole instead of only thinking of our own individual liberties? Does our primary view of being American revolve only around our fundamental rights when there is a pandemic killing thousands of people and many sacrifices are being made by professionals on the front line? Maybe it is easy to take this stance when the community you live in is not being ravaged and killed by this disease. Perhaps opposing quarantine is easier when no one among your immediate family and friends have gotten sick or died from the disease yet. But what does that say of us as a society? I am convinced that we are truly strong as a nation only when the weakest, most fragile members of our community do not perish and that we commit to make the sacrifices needed for everyone to move forward.