As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, it is time for us to move past annual resolutions to consistent and courageous truth- telling about who we are and have always been. Only then can we change as individuals and as a society.
So, tell me about it. What do we say now to prepare ourselves for year three? Check under your tongue. Is there any remaining motivational speech? Check all the books that you read. Are there any quotes, any mantras we haven’t taped to our bathroom mirror?
Check your list. What can we resolve ourselves to do now that we haven’t already done? We wore our masks, kept our distance, were vaccinated, and received the booster shot. Still, the results are more of the same, as if nothing has changed with more infections and deaths.
We did the right thing. We chose ourselves over capitalism, over the status quo, over keeping up the appearance of a time that never came. We chose not to work ourselves to death. We invested in our dreams instead of another capitalist pyramid scheme.
Many of us saw what we needed to see to free ourselves of toxic Christianity. We did the work of deconstructing what did not support our faith in Jesus. We left the church to follow him more closely.
It wasn’t planned but should we have some sort of routine for a world turned upside down, for large pockets of our lives turned inside out and dumped onto the floor? Should we even try to clean this up? Because the temptation to remain in my pajamas and stare at the ceiling while resigning myself to the belief that I need to commit to a life of hermitage is strong.
Because the numbers keep rising and so does our stress level. News reports of increased prices on food and other essentials, the highest number of cases of COVID-19 infection and the steamiest temperatures on record. Capitalism is consuming us; the prices need to go down. The people and the planet need to breathe, to cool down.
I take a deep breath in and out, not in praise of the fact that my lungs expand without technological assistance but in defiance of a panic attack.
Because this reality is stranger than any fiction I’ve ever read. Last year, we watched millions of Americans choose individual freedom over communal deliverance from a death- dealing virus. No masks, we saw it all clearly. That even if it meant death, they would stick to their guns. Pun intended.
Nearly a year ago, we watched fellow Americans march down the unbarricaded streets of Washington, D.C. unimpeded, not stopped and frisked because they “fit the description of a suspect.” They were allowed to carry baseball bats, flag poles, pepper spray and stun guns and no one “feared for their life.” They attacked police officers and threatened to kill then Vice President Mike Pence. They claimed they were following the orders of Donald Trump, then President of the United States.
Trump’s supporters said they were protesting the election of Joe Biden, which they believed had been stolen. But what followed was truly stunning. Nearly all of them went home after unlawful entry and trespassing, assaulting law enforcement officers, engaging in disorderly conduct, destroying, and stealing government property as well as disrupting Congress. To date, there have been more than 700 arrests and the review of what occurred on that terrible day continues with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
But before the investigation began, we listened to news anchors and commentators struggle to call it what it was—an attack on the U.S. Capitol and on democracy, an insurrection. Initially, it was called a riot. A riot?
We heard people revise history, arguing that there was no violence or vandalism while we watched footage of people climbing into broken windows and scaling walls. They walked out with stolen trinkets from government offices, not memorabilia purchased from the gift shop. We witnessed Republican politicians downplay it all and drop the ball on accountability. Still, there is debate as to whether these persons were simply touring the building.
To watch it all happen in real time and then to be told not to believe my “lying eyes,” to hear persons draw dismissive conclusions, which inevitably diminish the implications felt traitorous. It is yet another demonstration of American hypocrisy and we must teach it not as history but as our very present reality.
We don’t need a motivational speech or a mantra. It simply must be done. Justice must be rendered on time like bills come due each month.
Because we cannot fix a lie or continue to teach America’s own. We need to take a collective deep breath and let the truth come out.