Anyone who admits they aren’t afraid during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t being honest. Afraid of the virus itself. Afraid of the financial consequences. Afraid of the unknown, which is the disturbing ether we’ve all been inhabiting in these past two months.
Someday this will all be behind us. While I’m afraid of what comes between now and then, what keeps me awake in the middle night is my fear of what the “new normal” is going to resemble. On the other side of this waits an opportunity to build a “new normal” that is vastly different from the old normal we left behind in March. My gut aches from the fear that we will squander that opportunity, but even more so from the fear of what life will resemble if we do just that. My hope for our country started to die a slow death in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012, when after 20 schoolchildren were gunned down not one thing changed in terms of the lurid gun fetish the United States wallows in. If twenty dead children can’t drive change, what can?
I fear that in our rush to get back to “normal”, we’re going to end up missing the opportunity to enact real and meaningful healthcare reform with universal coverage regardless of employment status. What we’re witnessing today is nothing but our own collective, national hubris come home to roost. The end result of the lack of political will to enact long needed changes in healthcare systems has been dashed upon the rocks and has washed up on shore, bloody and wounded.
I am afraid for the future of our African American citizens and other minorities. This isn’t a new fear, but I believe its not something most Americans have really seen played out in stark detail. Black lives matter, but they don’t really. Not yet. We can’t slap on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt and hide behind a woke slogan and call it good. The racial disparities this pandemic has highlighted has lead to a terrifying death toll within the African American community. If this crisis hasn’t made clear the very hard work we have to do in this country to bring our black population into an equitable existence it will continue to be a stain on the character of the nation.
Likewise, I’m afraid that we’re going to continue to allow people to live in poverty without making a fair and living wage. It’s quite clear that the tens of millions of hourly wage earners who struggle to make ends meet with two, even three jobs are, in stark reality, the linchpins of our economy. We have been blind to their importance for too long.
Those are but a few things that need to change, but the list is exhaustive. We need to stay in the game, no matter how tired we are after fighting this damned virus. We need to hold elected officials accountable. We need to elect legislators that will help enact the drastic changes that need to come to fruition. We need to get mad as hell and not take it anymore. The opportunity awaits us. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. Like so many people with COVID-19, our democracy and our national priorities are on life support. It’s up to we the people to make sure our country survives and becomes something new and great and something we can once again be proud of. Lets not fuck it up.