I was commenting on a friend’s post today. She is someone of great heart and intelligence, who is struggling with the current conundrum of a Super Villain Virus and the push to reopen schools; a problem of “pandemic-proportions” foisted on her as a teacher and a parent. Anyone who has ever been both a teacher and a parent, (and I have long been both), will know the difficulty when one is asked to choose between those “two sides of our hearts”, and we don’t always make the right decision. But then we shouldn’t have to choose between “our children” — it’s an unfair “Sophie’s Choice”. And we wouldn’t have to so often choose between our love of our students and our love of our children if things were different here, at least in the good ‘ole U.S. of A.
My friend questioned whether she is being asked to be a “martyr” for her students if classrooms are reopened during this pandemic. She feels she is being asked to count the cost for her students for staying out of the classroom without considering the cost for her own family of going back in. My thoughts are included below as it might prove interesting for some of my other teacher and parent friends. But even if you are neither, wouldn’t you like to be part of the Big Picture Solutions that are so desperately needed now? The old chalkboard lessons have been erased or at least smeared due to a very bad thing happening around the world, but that merely means we can start anew and learn better lessons for ourselves and teach all the children that we care enough to do the hard work of Real Change.
Dear Shaneka: The difficulty is that what we are seeing is that the problems are so, so deep and much bigger than just these critical decisions we must make for the upcoming school year. The long-standing issues in America are all coming to a head in this pandemic issue in terms of educational resources, health resources, paid time off for sick time and for sick child health care for everyone, (no matter your 401k status), and livable wages for all. We need more schools, more and better paid teachers, smaller classrooms, more money in public education especially in areas of the country where there are not huge tax dollars (this includes poorer regions throughout the country along with those parts of the country that bear the brunt of systemic racist policies). We need to re-consider the overwhelming costs of getting a decent education from the early years to the college years and then truly weigh that against the costs of NOT providing educational resources for all our citizens and the overwhelming costs that has had to the whole nation because of our laxness in addressing the problem.
We are still always trying to foist the tough decisions onto parents and teachers but the tough decisions must be made by those with the power and resources to change what is wrong that makes dealing with a pandemic so overwhelming. We know as teachers that the problems have been overwhelming long before now. We know as parents that the tough decisions must always be made for the good of all of our children; because it is only if all of our children are safe, and healthy, and able to thrive, will any child really have the future and the dreams that he or she deserves.
We keep looking for band-aides but what we need is “open-heart” surgery on a national and state level. Oh, teachers have martyrs’ hearts, for sure, Shaneka, but going into dangerous situations for false or foolish reasons won’t make any one a true martyr, it will simply be one more finger in a dam that has already broken. The flood of problems we face has already begun lapping at the edges of all of our towns and communities. We have to fix the dam. And quickly. (Analogy to Hans Brinker story intentional.😊)
C’mon folks, we can do this. If the flood of fears and problems has begun seeping into our very homes and our children’s playgrounds, then it is long past time to fix the broken structures that have opened those floodgates. We can do it no matter what our lot in life or our calling. We can all take a page from the mothers and fathers and teachers, and with the ingenuity and creativeness and care and love that lets a teacher walk into a classroom every day or a parent love and dream big dreams for her child each night, we can “be the change the world needs to see”. Let’s take this opportunity to rebuild the broken parts not just put band aides on them. And beginning with rebuilding our schools and re-imagining our children’s education and our children’s future seems a very, very good place to start.
There is nothing more foolish than continuing to try to change the mind of a fool or the heart of a hater. Better to go ahead and change the world and let all benefit from it. The fools and haters will never thank you for it, but you won’t need their thanks. Heroes don’t need the praise of fools any more than the Sun needs the earth in order to shine its light. World-changers don’t need the haters to love them, any more than the weeds and stones need to love the Sun in order for it to warm them. As the Good Ones say, “The Sun shines on the good and the evil”. The Light illuminates The Path for those who will walk it and for those who will stand on the sidelines and look for any excuse to sit in the dark. Just as the Sun does, we must let the light of truth and the warmth of love touch all, even those who will continue to prefer darkness and coldness.
Let your light shine and let your love warm. Do not fight or worry about those who refuse to step into the light or embrace the warmth. World-changers don’t waste time trying to get fools and haters to believe that the world doesn’t revolve around them, any more than the Sun needs to convince us that She doesn’t revolve around the Earth. Each day, the Sun shines, whether a person believes in it or not.
The Sun will shine because it is created to shine. You are created to shine.
The Sun will warm because it is created to warm. You are created to warm.
And the Earth will continue to exist to revolve around the Light and Love of the Sun as long as there are Good people willing to keep their lamps full of the sacred oil of love and their lights burning bright, conspicuous and bold with the power of truth.
Be a Sun in the world today. Be the unsung, un-thanked Hero of this moment in the sun.
Be the light and even the fools will feel your power.
Be the warmth and you will find that even the haters will feel less cold.
Be the Light and do not let darkness delay you in your quest for a better world. And when you leave the fools and haters behind, you will find that there are many more heroes in our world than you ever dreamed there could be.
And the unsung heroes are the ones that will one day, receive the only thanks that truly matter in a better world where all will live in The Light of the Sun; the heroes of today will receive the thanks of the children of tomorrow.
Be of good cheer; have hope even in the darkness; shine your light; find joy in your journey; and rise to your very own task of being a light on The Way and a hero to others today – Jane (P.S. And remember that all real superheroes wear masks. 🙂 )
Now and then, I can embrace the coming full circle of this season of life. With the coming of the pandemic, there is not even any possibility of even trying to wage a battle against it. My lifetime of early mornings is no longer spent on long runs in the dark before the sun rises and hustling around getting ready for work, but on contemplation and learning and just “being here”. That is sometimes a little frightening — to accept the importance of those things without “guilt” at not doing, but rather acceptance that sometimes just being is enough and sometimes it is all. At other times it is revelatory and just so very, very “Good”, that I feel I finally understand the words: “And G-d said that it was good. And it was good.” It is one of the truly good and restorative things happening against my will but also changing my will to something else perhaps, as I sit with books and birds (and coffee of course). This morning, a special guest arrived for the free breakfast. And it was good.
I have an acquaintance who is all worked-up about America becoming Communist. I just don’t have enough hair left on my head to keep pulling it out trying to explain things to some people, but remaining silent is also not always an option for me, at least at a first go. I do not engage in fruitless argument, but neither will I engage in the mock-niceness of not saying anything. Not saying something to people is not only not nice, it is unkind. If people want to go out and play in the traffic, I at least have the responsibility as someone who has learned that playing in traffic is not only wrong-headed but dangerous to try to convince them they aren’t seeing things the right way. I have to at least try to be ethical and to warn them and tell them: “Hey, you know you don’t have to play in the traffic, you can play right here in my safe backyard with me. C’mon in”. I can’t force them to change their minds, but I also can not be silent while they play a game of chicken with speeding semitrucks. And no this is not about things that are truly open to one’s own opinion. For more on that you can see my post of July 6, 2020 (janetawel.com/2020/07/06/unapologetically-thoughtful-woman-seeks-thinking-humans/)
So, back to the person who lives in fear that the people who are protesting throughout America today are “commies”, and that all of the people who want real change in this country are “socialists” (a term some people erroneously associate with synonyms for “thieves” or God help us, with that frightening term “French People”) (and let’s just pause here for a moment of silence to let this settle in: this man and others are upset only about the Black Lives Matter protests – about the way Black People protest or the way we are protesting as white people for the long disenfranchised people in America. In the name of Saint Colin Kaepernick, isn’t it as clear as Black and White by now folks what the real issues are?!?!) This person and tragically too many like him actually believe that the federal government of America is right to send camouflaged troops into cities to protect property rather than allowing local governments to decide how to protect peacefully lawfully protesting people. I mean, can we get this straight – some people are still more upset about property destruction as a bad side effect of good people protesting long after they have forgotten what the protests are about – people!)
And when my friend brings up the cold, cold-war corpse of Communism as a specter, he is right (but oh so wrong because he doesn’t see it)– right in that it is always the abuse of power by those who lead that corrupt a system of government and thereby decay the moral integrity of the very foundations of a nation. This is absolutely true today, if we look only at nations and governments in which the philosophy of communism fell to the greed and power-mongering of the entitled, and this is true no matter what they may claim their governing philosophy is today. Of course, as Orwell predicted, our founding philosophy of American Democracy and the ideology of a “republic for all” has fallen just as low, if not lower than that of the original intent of Marx’ and Engel’s ideology. This is what we should be looking at – not where we might be headed as we change, but where we have sunk as we have changed.
And can we just actually look around at our nation with open eyes and ask, “is this really what we want to believe in?”. It may be what we “want” since we can be as self-centered and greedy as the next person, but is it what we want to believe in? Are we willing to follow along with the folks that have drunk the kool-aide and let ourselves think that a little more “communal-ism” would even be the worst thing that could happen to our self-centered nation?
(I refer you to a commercial break here so you can listen to that great prophet, Bob Dylan and one of his many protest songs: “Gotta Serve Somebody” https://youtu.be/wC10VWDTzmU )
People who think this way about what they fear happening in America don’t understand either America’s true system of current leadership which I would describe as “Oligarchical Unethical-Uber-Capitalism”; nor do they understand very much about the theory of Communism as a governing ideal rather than the way Communism has come to be used by history’s dictators and shysters.
So when this acquaintance of mine, who happens to claim Christianity as his religion, posted a scary meme about America becoming Communist, I responded thusly. (For those of you that don’t know much about Christianity, the cult of Jesus Christ was originally the most philosophically “Communist” religion since Abraham gave Lot the first choice in land ownership. It still has elements of the ideals of communism that can be found in many communities that practice Christianity including nuns, monks, the Amish, and the Bruderhoff communities.)
I told my friend, that in fact he was right – America’s Federal Government is behaving like a Cold-War-ish Communist regime, in a frightening way, perhaps not seen on a federal level since the civil rights movements of the 1960’s or the student riots which caused Neil Young to pen the words to the song “Ohio” in 1970 (https://youtu.be/xy7FgTKPaMc) . Change a few words and names in Young’s song, and we horrifically, sadly seem to be right back in those days of the American Federal Government abusing its power against its own peacefully protesting citizens. So, to my friend’s fallacious argument meme, this is what I said:
Why yes, my friend — the fact that you see freedom of speech as vandalism is exactly the point of propaganda such as regimes like Communism and Fascism have used in the past. Or Nixon’s “bums” at Kent State. Or Hitler’s Jewish enemies of the state that led to the Holocaust. It is called propaganda for a reason and the reason is to persuade people that lies are truth and truth is a lie and to create an alter-enemy narrative so that the people in charge can divert your attention away from the problems they are supposed to help solve. Read your Orwell. Read your history. Read news accounts of what is actually happening — your government employees lining their pockets by abusing their power (golf tournament in Scotland anyone? So worthy of a petty, greedy strongman like a Stalin or a Putin.) Your federal government acting against its own citizens let alone against immigrants and sojourners. Things allowed to happen because someone was “elected”, even though it is unconstitutional, breaking the laws and the rule of law of the Constitution, tear gassing innocent people, not “vandals”. Oh, you are quite correct — that is all something that communist countries do (see China vs. Hong Kong) or dictators (see history of Tienanmen Square, Arab Spring, just for a few in our lifetimes). Caring more about their economy numbers than the health of their citizens is indeed so worthy of a communist dictator — you could not be more right on this, if you are pointing the finger at our current federal government. And please, if those points of true history or current events don’t convince you, read the Bible for it’s great and God-origin calls to justice and sharing and equality and freedom and love — and then just picture Jesus (who was frankly nothing at all like an American capitalist) — imagine the Guy who people want to claim as their Savior, turning over the tables of the politically sponsored religious money making businesses, while he was being teargassed and hit with rubber bullets by Caesar’s camouflaged men while the religious leaders washed their dirty hands of it rather than washing the protesters’ and sinners’ dirty feet.
For me, a person who has long tried to figure out what that figure of Jesus Christ is supposed to mean to my very own life, has there ever been a better time in my own country – in my own community – in my own family – in my own soul– to serve and love others as He did? Do I, as Jesus did, fear G-d enough to stop fearing Caesar? As Martin Luther King and John Lewis did?
And even if you don’t believe in any god at all – is your life not worth more than letting your fears define you? Don’t you want to be defined by what you believe IN, not what you fear is OUT there?
So, I told this friend of mine, and I say it to us all:
Be careful what you are allowing yourself to fear because it will end up being what you are left to serve.
Honestly, I have never liked talking about politics. I don’t have a desire to spend my remaining time on earth to write about them or even think about all this stuff. After learning and thinking about all the issues currently swirling around in America today, I feel like I have just willingly put myself in the eye of a storm much too big for little ole’ me and I am watching the pressing needs and problems swirl around like a million Amazon packages in a Wicked Witch’s Tornado.
But I must. If I am forced to run into the oncoming traffic only because it might save somebody else, then run into the speeding cars I must. It is my time. It is The Time. As that great sage and prophet, J.R.R. Tolkien said in The Fellowship of the Ring: We must decide what we are called to do with the time we are given.
I am going to sound a bit too personal and probably a bit too irritable in this post, but I figured that someone out there in my audience-land may need to hear this today.
I am an unapologetically thinking, thought-full, thought-provoking woman. I am both an energetic teacher and a seeking life-learner. I am overly empathetic and feistily philosophical and I have a strong worldview that tries hard – really hard — to be ethical and moral, but also flexible and open-minded. I try to not close my mind by the continual process of opening my heart. I am equally passionate and limited, hard-working and lazy, and the yin and yang of that kind of energy keeps me humbled. I believe in the greatness of the human spirit, the fallenness and brokenness of each of us and our institutions, and that there is Someone, Something, that IS but Is Not Us, that moves throughout the cosmos with justice, wisdom, creativity, goodness and most of all, love.
And here is my getting irritable part of all this: I will do my very best, no matter when, what or to whom, to sincerely apologize when I am wrong. BUT I am sick to the point of anger and distraction of being asked to apologize for how it makes “you feel” when I am right.
There are some things that are not open to opinion. There are some things that are black or white, right or wrong. People really can be either thoughtful and intelligent and wise or unthinking, stupid, and foolish. As a matter of fact, we all are sometimes one or the other of these things, and to insist that we are never stupid or foolish or are never just plain, downright wrong, has opened the Pandora’s Box of Evils currently assailing the modern world. There is good. And there is evil. And there is just plain messing up, making mistakes, or being misguided or selfish. When I am any of those things, I, just like you do, try to hide behind denial, justification, falsehoods, or anger. But I also try to want to change that knee-jerk response, and realize sooner rather than later when I have been wrong or wronging and to course-correct when possible.
What I don’t want to change however, is thinking that it is somehow “ethical” to be “nice” to people who are wrong. I am not speaking here of being kind to all and loving our enemies – that is something completely different both philosophically and spiritually. I am talking about dialing back truth and allowing people to go on thinking they are “entitled to their opinions” when those opinions have ethical consequences both for them and for the world. And why, yes, there ARE times I am quite sure that I am right because the opposing idea is showing its ugly underbelly or the fungus of fallacious thinking and irrational arguments that grow out of someone’s defenses of the wrong side of something.
This is what having a valid, working worldview means. It means I have tools with which to examine ideas and actions – my own, and yes, others’. And if I am trying to have a growing, moral, ethical worldview, and not a completely self-centered, stagnant, directionless worldview, then – why yes, I will confidently say, “this is not an opinion, this is the right way to think / act / live”. In other words, there are times we need to say: “Let’s look at the current hypothesis and then apply our worldviews and see if the theory can stand up to the standard of Truth.”
So even if we do not have all the facts about something, we can still apply an ethical, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil worldview microscope / magnifying glass / telescope to what we can currently observe, know, and act upon.
So while I will always try to use my empathetic nature to understand anyone’s point of view, I won’t excuse it as a valid “opinion” if it is wrong. I am not able to kill the engine on my critical thinking skills nor will I accept as opinion, those things which grow out of falsehoods or broken, or sometimes hateful hearts. And if I am wrong, I will be, if not always the first, at least at the head of the line to own up to it.
I don’t want a world where everyone is like me – God forbid. I wish everyone would care about the things I am writing about here, but that is not the real intent of these thoughts on myself. I tell you some things about what I am like, to try to explain the following analysis of this post’s philosophical musings:
It matters to me– Who I Am, Who I Am Becoming, and (with a whole lot of help and faith and humility) Who I Can Be. I do not want to be content with the way things are, either for me or for the world. To riff on one of my favorite quotes by Tolkien, “I hate the times I have conflicts with people and the bad stuff that seems to be happening in my world today, but all we have to decide is what to do with the time and the character qualities that are given to us.”
I may be nothing in the scale of human achievement and I may be only a small bit of dust in a vast Eternal Cosmos, but all that matters to me right now, in this moment, is to believe that in some inexplicable way: I matter. And if I matter? Then You Matter.
Somehow, our very matter miraculously matters.
Who We Are + What We Do = Our True Purpose in Life
What I Do with Who I Am is what is called “Ethics”. Who I Try to Be, with Whatever is Done To or For Me, is called Courage. And when Who I Am and What I Do has both ethical intent and courageous truth-telling action, then I am that Imago Dei, that very singularly spiritually-distilled essence that I am created to be – the very only, unique version of a glorious, flawed, amazing human being that is heroically ….. Me.
A friend recently and kindly responded to a post of mine with this comment: “I agree with everything you said, except the part where you say ‘I’m sorry for writing this’ because I don’t think, Jane, that you are sorry. And you shouldn’t be sorry”. And she was right. And I was wrong. I am not sorry for when I am right and I will not apologize any more for the things I do and say that might make someone realize he or she is wrong. And the many times I am wrong, I will do my best to make it right. But, no I am not going to apologize any more for when I am in the right, even if someone doesn’t like it. Even if someone doesn’t like me. Because there is always a slight chance that someone will learn something they need to know, and that together, we can learn how to make the world a better, truer more right-eous place for everyone.
But no matter what, True Truth has a way of flinging itself upon the moorings of the world and shoring up all that is right with Her, despite us, and thankfully, sometimes, because of us.
While we, of course, may indeed have differing opinions on a host of things, when we begin to think everything is open to opinion, we lose the very strength and security of the foundations we need so desperately to stand on and the reality we need to exist in as sentient beings. Someone may knock me down with hurtful words or by taking a little angry stance on what they see as their “opinion”, but though I may be hurt or irritated or aghast, it is not about me. There is a reality to our existence that is true and good whether we are aware of it or not. It thankfully matters not if I am right, for being right does not make me who I am. But it matters a whole, whole lot if I can never admit I am wrong, because knowing I am wrong is the only thing that can change what I do and being able to change what I think and what I do is what makes me more than a mere animal. It makes me a human soul. We who believe that there is Some Thing, Some One more in the world that puts in all of us a desire for a better, more whole existence can hang on to this assurance: Right will always Rise to the Top. As Maya Angelou, preaches in a poem, that is about black women, but which I’d like to think can be about any Righteous Cause or True Truth:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”
Unapologetically flawed but often entertaining, Thoughtful Woman—Seeks Those Who Want to RISE TOGETHER! Pet-opinions allowed only in open spaces. Willingness to admit being wrong is a must. Must also be willing to insist on being right. Desire others who are seeking-out truth and have a worldview open to learning and change. Hopefulness, not necessary, will be provided when together. Any race, age, gender, or social strata welcome. Contact if you are like me and looking for a “Good” Time.
P.S. I liked so much some additional thoughts that I posted in a comment to my fellow blogger, lensdailydiary, that I wanted to add them as a postscript here.
lensdailydiary: Thank you so much for reading and the insightful comment — a lot to unpack in your comment but where I’d like to respond or “leave it” at least just for today is: you are exactly right about our need to evolve. And what you indicate both by your own musings and your example is that in many arenas there is an overlap or perhaps, I should say, a shifting understanding between what is an opinion and what is a more eternal or firm standard or “code” as you say that should be lived by.
My own example would be something more like telling lies. While we may have differing opinions about why or when a person might “shade” the truth (maybe to protect someone or they are afraid or they don’t stop to think about the consequences until it is too late, etc. etc.) when there is a consistent pattern of using falsehoods to manipulate people or lying in order to trick or “best” someone, or lying because one is greedy or selfish, then there should be no “opinion” about whether an accountability in the relationship and the ethical reverberations must be addressed. If the person who has lied is unwilling to admit they are wrong, that is, and unwilling to try to course-correct from the consequences of the misdeeds in the relationship. This would be true whether it is between two spouses, child and parent, or leader and citizens, etc. etc. When we constantly justify our behaviors with the excuse that it is only a matter of differing opinions, or worse yet, we blame what we think on a fallacy meant to put down the other person’s character, that is where we end up on the slippery slope of having no ethical standards to see a relationship / community / nation through the good and the bad.
Your other thoughtful idea here, is that whether some particular idea or point of view should be spoken of as right and wrong and not merely opinion has a lot to do with the relationship between people. Again, the onus of speaking truth to one’s own “people”, whether national or communal or familial, is different than that of speaking truth to those whose “shoes we do not walk in”. For example — for me personally to say something is wrong for people I am close to and am willing to support both financially, emotionally, spiritually, in other words give to them what they need to actually be ethical in a tough situation, or to those who claim to share a particular worldview with me, is a critically important and necessary thing, and we dishonor both those people and whatever grouped worldview we share when we do not speak true truth to the problems. But if I am trying to speak to people who live very differently than I do, then it may become an “opinion only” for me to address anything but the most fundamental issues of human morality.
I think what I like best about your comment, is that my own musings are not meant to make this whole thing seem easy (it certainly never has been for me) — and we should not always take the easy way out to avoid conflict by remaining silent or seeing everything as an opinion — your comment adds to this in a very perceptive way — as you always do! Thanks so much for “answering my ad” (haha) and being one of those thoughtful, thinking people I am privileged to try to figure this whole thing out with.
Wishing you courage and joy in the journey ~~ Jane
Fellow WordPress folks: Make sure you check out the blog posts on https://lensdiary.blog You will be glad you did!
Awkward Questions We Must Ask During This Pandemic —
Even if It Means Losing a Friend
By Jane Tawel
July 1, 2020
When I first became a mom and had my four wonderful children, now all grown and adulting, I loved being with them, caring for them, watching over them like a mother hen. And so most playdates included me. I was always a bit cautious about dropping my children off with other people, even if I knew them, was good friends with the parents, or possibly even was related to them. It wasn’t exactly that I didn’t trust them but….. I didn’t trust them. I mean I didn’t trust anyone but their loving dad, to truly love and watch-over and protect and care about my kids as much as I would. I never minded other parents dropping their kids at my house and was always a hawk on the sidelines trying to ensure safety to all the children, even the ones who were not mine. If I had to leave the swimming pool as a lifeguard, ALL the kids had to get out of the water (“But Mom we’re teenagers now”. “Too bad, out.”) The one time my kids were in a hot tub at a friend’s house, and I asked her to watch my kids while I went to breast-feed the baby, my daughter almost drowned right in front of my friend. Luckily her sister was there to save her. So, call me overprotective, call me a worry-wart, call me a helicopter mom — all true — if it was about safety and protection. I didn’t try to protect my kids from risk or failure, or learning or fighting their own relational battles — but physical safety — heck yeah! I believed that as long as I could, I would do my very, very best to protect them. Now, since they are young adults, the most I can do is caution and pray (and they will confirm I do plenty of both — still my job).
But then all the kids started getting old enough to want sleep-overs. It would have been rather weird for them if I had insisted that if they wanted to sleep over at a friend’s house, their mom — I — would have to sleep-over too. And of course, I didn’t do that. But I did often have to say no to sleep overs, especially if I didn’t know the family or other kids or parents that well. But even if I did know them fairly well, I would always have to ask this very awkward question: “Do you have guns in the house and if so, where and how to you store them?”
Asking someone if they keep guns at home is a bit like asking someone on a first date if that’s a pimple or a cold sore on their lip. Awkward! However, this thing about guns in this country is something people think very, very differently about, and so when you ask a very reasonable question, it feels intrusive because people see it as political. For me it had nothing to do with my view of guns or my view of my friends — it had to do with, “will my child be as safe as possible at your home, and do you consider this an important safety issue like I do?” This was something I had learned to ask as a careful, discerning parent, and yes, some people got offended, and yes, some people might have lied, and yes, some relationships fell apart even, but at the same time, asking might have made not only my kids safer but made those families safer too, if they found out they or their own friends were not treating gun ownership and storage with the seriousness it should be. I knew without a doubt, that even if it was an awkward conversation, I would rather my children and I be “safe and not sorry”. You see, my children’s lives are the most precious gifts I have ever, ever received and I wanted to treat them as such. I would never get another one of J, C, V, or G — my unique and oh, so special four children — and so I didn’t mind being considered a bit overprotective, even if it cost us a “fun time”; even if it cost us a friend.
Fast forward to 2020, and some of us who would rather be “safe than sorry” have got to start being “the careful parent” of our own lives and the lives of others. As Corona Virus continues to rampage through our nation, we may not be able to control other people’s foolishness or lack of care about their own or our safety — but we CAN control their access to us, do our best to not be unaware of or ignorant of their behaviors both in our presence and apart from us, and speak out when necessary. We do have the right, awkward as it may feel, and the responsibility to protect ourselves and our children, and our children’s children. We must truly take seriously any possible threat to our well-being, even if “those people” do not. But just like guns, some people see the safety precautions and their rights to do whatever they want with the weapons of this virus as a political issue. Don’t let them do that to you. It is not — any more than gun safety is a political issue. It is a life-issue and a safety-issue and an issue about how much we care about each other. And so it feels intrusive and awkward to bring the subject up, but if we start caring more about our health and safety and the health and safety of others, more than we care about our feelings or egos or politics, then we will make having these awkward conversations just one more part of the new normal. We will make asking the right questions of others a matter of caring about them, and we will willingly share with others what they need to know before they decide to meet with us. We will be honest, even with our most casual acquaintances and we will be truthful with ourselves when we ask, “is this event worth my giving up something in the future with people I love?” And dear, dear folks — we need to start having these conversations before we get together with other people.
And sometimes the hardest conversations are with the very people who are your best friends and your beloved family. Having to ask your parent or child, “by the way, before you come over, what have you done this week, how safe were your co-workers this week, and are you still wearing a mask and washing your hands like a surgeon”? Last week, when we were lulled into a sense of security (false as it turns out this week) that maybe we could have another couple over for a socially distanced, outdoors, bring your own food and utensils, keep it distanced and keep it short little get-together at our house, we made all the arrangements until I mentioned the time. Then my friend (who is 70 years old and has been quite careful about following all the protocols during the pandemic / quarantine) asked if we could make it later in the day since the day before we were to meet, they would be hosting a party for a friend’s son who was graduating high school and she would be hosting 30 -40 other people. Yep. True story. I was rather flabbergasted and yes, blindsided. So my hubby and I discussed it and I texted her a very kind, sweet text asking if we could delay the get-together and she was very kind and texted back, ‘of course we could’. But here’s the scary part — if she hadn’t mentioned it in passing, I would never have known how many other households I would be exposed to through her the very next day. I never would have known if she hadn’t let it slip that her “gun was loaded in an unlocked drawer” so to speak.
So here is the gist, the bottom line, the stern warning, the upshot, the please, please, please let’s all commit to doing this. We absolutely must start quizzing people about where they have been and with whom and for how long and what protections they used when they did it — BEFORE we get together with them. Remember that old adage that every one your mate has had sex with, you technically have also had sex with? Well, corona virus is like that, y’all, but the thing is — if you’re asymptomatic or have just recently been exposed — you don’t even know that you’ve “had sex” with the virus. So, abstinence is finally the right solution folks — and we do that by sacrificing pleasure for the long term health of all us, and by masking up, social distancing, washing like a surgeon, telling each other the truth, and making good (even when tough) decisions for those we love.
We can’t be embarrassed around each other or irritated if someone asks us about our exposure or if we have been following protocols with the Corona Virus — this is killing us folks! We certainly cannot keep being offended if someone asks us to follow the safety guidelines when we are with them and we must stand up to those who act offended by our desire to protect ourselves and our children from them — (do I need to say it again? THIS IS KILLING US.) Just like asking if someone’s guns are stored in a safe, locked lockbox, we have to start asking people if they have been “locking down” the threat of their corona virus possibilities. Just like I never believed (without proof) someone who would say, “oh don’t worry, I’ll watch your kids” or “how dare you ask, my kids would never do such and such” or “don’t worry I’m very careful with the gun I keep loaded in my bedside drawer” we can’t pretend that all of us don’t stretch the truth to protect ourselves from criticism or from having to change our behaviors. We can’t really keep expecting to believe that others are being careful to protect their own health or mine, unless we are willing to converse, and communicate, and dialogue. And we should not shy away from a little bit of questioning and a commitment to get some reasonable answers on the part of those we would like to be with.
I will promise to never be offended if family or friends quiz me about whether I am doing my part for their safety. I won’t get my hackles up even if my very own children say to me, “Mom, we can’t come over this Saturday because you went to such and such a place and were with such and such a group”. I know they are saying no to being with me in order to protect me and because they know how much I love them. They may understand my choices to do “such and such”, just like I might understand their choices or a friend’s choices and we may be perfectly fine, even in agreement with — even applaud — some of those choices to do things with other people or attend something that is important. BUT approval and agreement for each other’s choices as important enough to perhaps do something that risks our health, means that we will not be able to do “our things” together if it means we won’t be safe together — not until this horrible plague is over. And God willing, someday it will be over. Then — we can all literally and figuratively breathe easy, and “let the parties and concerts, and museum trips, and play dates and sleep overs begin!!
What it means to do the right thing right now by all that we have been entrusted with, is that we must be willing to be seen as overprotective if necessary, even if it costs us a “fun time”, even if we lose a friend, even if someone is offended. We just cannot risk the worst by hoping for the best. We absolutely must not send off our lives to a risky play-date situation or entrust our health to an unsafe sleep over. We must prove that we can trust each other, by honestly communicating with each other. And — If we haven’t already, we must begin to treat our health and well-being as the precious gifts they are. We won’t be getting any other lives with which to replace these very unique and special ones we have, and just like our children, our lives are counting on us to protect them.