We are all weary. To say this is a crazy year is an understatement and I hold little hope that we will soon be rocking along just as we may have been in January. I still know so many who are unemployed who have been working diligently to find jobs that do not now exist. They are in a state of panic since the extra help with unemployment they have been receiving will expire in July. They are not just sitting at home enjoying the time off from work because their unemployment checks are so terrific. In fact, most of them are receiving so much less compensation than they were when they were working that they did not even receive those twelve hundred dollar checks that so many are crowing about. My heart bleeds for them as I watch them valiantly attempting to find a route back to the careers that they so enjoyed. They are willing to relocate if necessary even though it will greatly disrupt the lives of their families. We cannot forget about them just because we are secure. It is not yet time to celebrate the return of our economy.
The virus is still raging in some parts of the world and its very existence anywhere threatens all of us. I do not believe for a moment that we have seen the last of it and I constantly worry about what the fall and winter will bring. I hope that we are ready for whatever happens but the cavalier attitude of so many worries me that we may get caught unprepared once again. I grieve for those who have lost loved ones and for all the the might have beens. Like everyone I want to go back to church but even my pastor is asking us to be cautious and stay away if we belong to any of the vulnerable groups. It is certainly not over and yet I see people taking group photos with friends, large gatherings at the beach, disregard for social distancing on a grand scale. I desperately want to be wrong about my concerns. I hope to one day laugh at my foolishness in being unduly anxious.
I must admit to being sad a great deal of the time because our country is so divided and the anger is palatable. The last time it felt like this I was young and strong and enthusiastic about being able to help my country to grow and change for the better. I walked in marches for civil rights while a student at the University of Houston. I protested for peace in Vietnam, not because I did not love my country or the soldiers fighting for us, but precisely because I have always thought that this is the only place on earth that I ever want to be. I am a sold gold American but I am not so foolish as to believe that everything about my country has been right or good. I am imperfect and so is everyone and everything on this earth. Only God is unflawed. The rest of us have room for improvement and that includes our nation.
I have always believed that if you love someone or something you do not abandon nor enable them when they are wrong. Love is a verb that requires action, not just blind devotion. Just as I have had to have some difficult conversations with myself, my mother, my husband, my children and my students so too have I tried to be honest about the United States of America. Every person and every organization has room to grow and my beloved country is no exception. If we do not honestly address problems we do little more than sanction bad behaviors.
Of late it has become popular to hark back to some mythical time when everything in the United States was exceptionally perfect but anyone who has even a small understanding of history knows that there have always been difficulties that have affected different groups in their quest for freedom and justice. Our laws were created with the idea of changing things as needed but now so many want to keep everything set in stone even when it is apparent that even our laws have to evolve with the times. Some find fault with anyone who even suggests that America needs to address certain problem areas, acting as though anyone who does so is somehow disloyal to the ideals of democracy when in truth it takes great love for country to attempt to bring about positive change and improvement.
When I was studying for my master’s degree I took a course in organizational development. I learned that any group that denies active discussion of problem areas is doomed to die. Organizations must be dynamic and disagreements that are treated seriously and with interest in all points of view are the ones that succeed. It is critical that we encourage the varied voices of our citizenry to be heard rather than silenced simply because we feel uncomfortable with confrontation.
I have always had respect for the office of the President of the United States but I do not believe that my loyalty has to be so complete that I should never point out things that I find to be troublesome. I have never been that circumspect with any other president so I don’t think that I need to be so with our present chief executive. According to the Constitution he is supposed to be working for the country as a whole and not just his loyal group of believers. His every effort should be aimed at bringing the disparate citizenry together, not driving them apart. If I critique him for perceived wrongs it is only because I love America and it is my unalienable right to do so.
We have much work to do. The virus must still be acknowledged. The Black citizens among us must be heard in their attempts to tell us what life in this country is like for them. Taking a stand to see them and understand them is not un-American, but the exact opposite if we are to believe in the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence. We cannot fall back on soundbites to forgive our inaction on this just cause nor can we be so enabling of a struggling president that we drown out or ignore the voices that are crying to be heard. The American revolution continues as it should. At this moment we must decide if it includes everyone longing to be free. When we say that we love this country we have to remember that love is an action verb. If we don’t continually do this to make certain that everyone is included then our love becomes only a word.