It’s bewildering to reckon with the interlocking crises we face.

To name only some of them: soaring case rates of COVID-19 infections, overburdened hospitals, politicization of mask-wearing and school-opening, rising unemployment, nonprofits cutting staff or closing their doors and businesses permanently closing.

There are also urgent demands for long-overdue action toward racial justice and for reimagining and demilitarizing the role of police.

And, when we let ourselves, we feel the weight of grief over the loss of more than 150,000 people in the United States who have died from the novel coronavirus.

I don’t have much hope we will get wise leadership from the federal government.

Though there are many good and credible elected officials, and despite the diligent and honest efforts of the majority of career public servants, what mostly comes from Washington is an overreach of power and an under-reach of compassion.

It’s hard not to feel “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Nonetheless, there are some things we can do. We can:

  • Listen to credible public health leaders, wear masks, wash our hands and keep a safe distance from others.
  • Donate money to organizations focused on the needs of people struggling to feed their families, to pay rent or make mortgage payments and to develop the skills they need to navigate the unmapped future.
  • Ask our leaders hard questions and insist on something other than glib answers workshopped in focus groups.
  • Press for justice, vote and withhold consent to our being governed by harshness.
  • Treat all people as bearers of God’s image, who have inherent dignity and deserve genuine respect.
  • Act on the truth that we flourish or diminish together: All of us are affected by all of us.
  • Pray with our words and our deeds.

“Crisis” comes from a Latin word for the turning point in an illness. From the moment of crisis, health either deteriorates further or begins to improve.

In this extraordinarily critical season, do we have the wisdom and the will to turn decisively toward health?

If the mounting loss of life, downward slide of the economy, lingering echoes of “I can’t breathe,” corroding civility and eroding democracy aren’t enough to stir us to action, I’m not sure what will.

There are times, as Congressman John Lewis often said, to “get in the way – to get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

He meant, of course, getting in the way of whatever gets in the way of Beloved Community and getting in the kind of trouble that troubles the trouble we face.

We’re in such times.

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared on Sayles’s blog. It is used with permission.

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