Sad and Confused

“We are living in the world of pandemic. Life is not the same as it was before. We have to choose new ways of living. Being ignorant or in denial won’t make you immune to the virus. Choose to be responsible and always be careful. Watch what you do, where you go and what you touch. You can practice your freedom by choosing to be safe.” ~ De philosopher DJ Kyos

“We are not going to get the racism out of us until we start thinking about racism like we think about misogyny. Until we consider racism as not just a personal moral failing but as the air we’ve been breathing.” ~Glennon Doyle from Untamed

I’ve been feeling sad and confused these past few days with all the turmoil that’s been going on. It has shattered the quiet of the cocoon I’ve been living in for the past two and a half months.

My husband has been working from home for about 63 days. This arrangement is coming to an end. The other day we admitted to each other that we were feeling sad about that. We like being home together. There is still so much uncertainty about the virus that it makes his going back to work scary.

Some people seem to think it’s a hoax and don’t follow the CDC guidelines. They think that reopening means that everything is going to go back to normal. But I hope we don’t go back to the way things were.

The other day a Facebook friend posted three or four pictures of trash on beaches, in parks, and even around trash cans as an example of how people have gone back to abusing the planet. I don’t know if the photos were recent but if they were, I’m sad and confused about that.

Then there are the photos of people flocking to parks and beaches with no masks, congregating close to each other having a grand old time as if nearly two million cases and over one hundred thousand deaths in this country alone doesn’t affect them.

I can hear their inner dialogue. “The danger is past. We can get back to normal.” As if what they want and need is more important than the safety of their friends, family, and neighbors. I don’t think those people took the opportunity to do any self-examination while they were in quarantine. They were just biding their time until they could get back out into the world and resume the lives they’d been living before the pandemic.

What I’ve been hoping would happen during this world wide crisis, is that most people would take the opportunity to do some reevaluation of how we’ve been running the world. But it seems fewer people have been doing that than I’d hoped.

And then there was George Floyd’s death caused by a white police officer kneeling on his neck to restrain him. And stories of people calling 911 complaining about people of color going about their normal lives but somehow the caller thought they were a threat. The police discovered in many of these cases that there was no emergency, the caller said they were just afraid.

Maybe fear is at the bottom of both situations. People are so afraid of all the changes taking place that they act irresponsibly and hurt themselves and others.

The thing some of us don’t get is that fear is internal, not external. No one can make us feel afraid. We do it to ourselves. Once we allow fear in, it can’t be ignored. Sometimes, though, we try to push fear away. At those times fear can manifest in really strange ways. Like, claiming to be afraid of people wearing masks. Or rebelling against businesses requiring their customers to wear them. Or getting upset when we find black, brown, or asian people occupying spaces we’ve claimed as our own. It’s becoming too common for people to make fear an excuse for bad behavior without taking responsibility for their emotions and actions.

To be fair, fear has been nurtured by so many sources in this country for a very long time. Pharmaceutical companies spread fear by advertising medications for this or that condition. Certain politicians spread fear by targeting this or that group telling us they are the cause of our problems. The NRA tells us that we’ll be safe if we own automatic weapons. Certain religions spread fear by telling us we won’t go to heaven if we do thus and so. It goes on and on. We’ve given our power away and allowed ourselves to be brainwashed. But we can stop the madness. We just have to take a step back to examine the messages and motives behind them.

Recently I read Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed. In it she has a chapter titled “Racism” which I found disturbing and profoundly accurate. Her premise is that we have all been so deeply immersed in the toxicity of racism, that we don’t even know that our thinking and feelings are tainted. We need to admit that we’re affected by the generations of racism we’ve been exposed to. Once we do that we need to do the work to detox from it.

Glennon’s assertion hit close to home. Years ago I was forced out of a teaching position at the largest high school in our county. I had two or three weeks to find a new teaching assignment for the upcoming school year. There were two positions in a school district about an hour from my house for which I was qualified. It’s a border town and most of the students are of Mexican descent. As I sat in the school district office filling out the application, my heart sank for a number of reasons. I knew nothing about the Mexican culture, I’d be one of a minority of white teachers, the school district was not as financially well off as the one I’d left, I’d be getting up at 4:00 a.m. to get to work on time, and I’d be teaching English, not drama which I was educated to teach. There were lots of unknowns and I was a little scared.

Here’s what I learned from teaching in that border district. The students were, for the most part, hard working. Their parents valued education and they valued me as a teacher. None of them ever asked me to fix their child, as one parent asked, and others implied at that old school. Family was extremely important to those students so they were motivated to study hard. Oh, of course, there were the same kinds of personality clashes as there had been at the other school. But in the end, I felt more at home, accepted and supported in the border school district than I had at the more wealthy district. And in the end, I had to admit, I’d been prejudiced against these students until I learned I was completely wrong about them.

To be sure, what is happening now shows us the tangled web in which we are caught. But we can extricate ourselves if we choose to do so. It will take time. It will take support from people like us who’re doing the work to get free of the old ways of thinking. It will take continued vigilance.

We have to admit that things are not ever going to go back to the way they were before. My husband got the message from one of his bosses yesterday that an employee has come down with Covid-19 symptoms. All employees who went back to work this week were sent home and City Hall will be closed until June 15 at the least. So he has two more weeks at home.

I’m hoping instead of weeping and whaling on social media about how terrible this or that incident is, we use those events to wake up and start taking better care of each other.

I’m going to keep wearing a mask, and using personal distancing when I’m out and about and when I begin teaching my classes in the fall. And I’m going to continue my process of self-examination. I know I harp on this theme a lot, but it’s the only way I can see for us to make a better world.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I hope you are staying safe and healthy.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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