Today I find the mask useful
along with sunglasses
to hide my tear streaked face,
not wanting to scare the barista
who has enough to deal with
behind his own mask.
-Transitions” by Tammi Truax, poet laureate of Portsmouth, NH.
Canaan’s descendants settled in the land of Canaan!
In the Boston Globe recently, there was an interesting title. “If I die now, have I lived the life I wanted to?” The subtitle: “The pandemic has people examining their lives. Some don’t like what they’re seeing.”
“Spouses are being left, retirements pushed up, friends dropped. People are moving to rural spots and strengthening their faith, and those fortunate enough to have a choice are saying ‘no’ to commuting.”
But I don’t think it’s just the pandemic. As the article noted, “A married couple have taken stock of their lives… They have been hanging out with the wrong people — friends who were nice to their faces, but, they now realize, are selfish. The friends refuse to wear masks or support Black Lives Matter, stances that rule out any further relationship.”
So it’s all of it: IMPOTUS, COVID-19, George Floyd and all of the ramifications of each. It’s certainly true for me.
Let me let you in on a little secret. I hate writing about race and racism in America. The only thing that I hate more is NOT writing about it. There is a hole in my stomach, probably from acid reflux, when I don’t write what I am feeling.
So I have come to a conclusion. There’s a woman in my life who is really upset with me. It is because I told her, in an email discussion in late June, that IMPOTUS was a bigoted person. Therefore, her support of him appeared racist to me. She says she’s “devastated.”
From here: “Canaan’s descendants, however, did not settle in Africa, but in the land to which they gave their father’s name—the land of Canaan!… Later, Joshua conquered this land and placed the Canaanites under forced slave labor (Josh. 9:23)…. Thus, the prophetic curse of slavery was literally fulfilled on the Canaanites. The curse, therefore, applies to no ethnic group in existence today. The mistaken idea that Ham’s African descendants are cursed is a myth too often repeated even to this day!” And it’s out there a lot.
When I finally did figure out the absurdity that she was talking about – even assuming that the Bible is literally true, which she does – I might have called her out about it. But I didn’t, in the name of peace. But, as it states in Jeremiah 6:14-15:
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
My disservice to her, then, was not saying something sooner. It’s not her support for IMPOTUS that is the reason I believe her views are racist; that just codifies it. It’s because of her views on the curse of Ham, and the seeming glee she had sharing this with me five or six years earlier. And some other things too.
On the Road with Steve Hartman introduced me to Steve Derrick, an artist from Clifton Park. He “has produced more than 100 portraits of healthcare workers as they ended their shifts, many of them nurses at Albany Medical Center.”
The artist paints portraits of medical workers and captures their exhaustion treating Covid-19 patients. The subjects are weary, tired, brave, bruised, and raw. “Steve Derrick’s paintings depict the spirit of healthcare heroes on the front lines.”
“To escape the overwhelm of the pandemic, he engaged in painting. He says, ‘there was so much negativity on the news. This gave me something positive to think about while sitting in quarantine.'”
I found the story so touching, so compelling that after seeing it on the CBS Evening News on a Friday, I watched it again on CBS Sunday Morning. “He presents the finished portrait, a moment in time that omits no detail, to each of his subjects, and refuses payment.” Herrick’s actions have become part of a movement.
The eyes have it
Beyond this story, I’ve discovered that I have spent a whole lot more time looking at the eyes of people wearing masks. I find almost all of them are beautiful. Without seeing the whole face, it’s been necessary to discern how another is feeling. I’m required to actually look at people in a new, and arguably, better way.
Googling “eyes,” I came across a poet and short story writer named Avijeet Das. He wrote: “Eyes speak. Eyes say the unsaid words. Eyes express feelings. Eyes convey emotions. Eyes are eloquent. Eyes are tender. Eyes are sensitive. Eyes are captivating. I can’t help looking into eyes. I am always fascinated by eyes. If I were a painter then I would love to paint the eyes of the people I meet and come across.”
CBS’s Steve Hartman asked painter Steve Derrick if he were painting the nurses at their worst. Derrick totally disagreed. It is his belief that he has captured them at their best. I believe he is correct.
It’s been a while since I wrote a COVID-19. If I lived in a country that took on the situation with, you know, science, we’d be on the downside of the curve. Back in mid-March, when Individual 1 said he was a wartime president, combating in combating the novel coronavirus, I thought “fine.” Though a tad hyperbolic, I thought, finally, he’s taking it seriously.
Of course, he then mucked it up bigly, with lies about everything from how long the virus would last to the availability of PPE.
Some of the states followed his lead into an infection disaster. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that if the US doesn’t take drastic action to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, we could see 100,000 new cases a day. We’re already more than halfway there.
Yahoos such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed Fauci was “wrong every time on every issue” related to coronavirus. Patrick is the guy who, earlier this year, had suggested it was acceptable to “exchange” the lives of seniors in order to save the economy.
The United States could have had a coordinated federal testing program but it did not and does not. A 60 Minutes investigation has found that federal officials knew many COVID-19 antibody testing kits had flaws but allowed them to enter the U.S. market. Laredo, Texas is one of the many locales stuck with flawed assessment tools.
The United States doesn’t have a national system of case management and contact tracing. Leaving this to the states is grossly irresponsible.
The United States doesn’t have consistent nationwide regulations on how to conduct social distancing. The country relies far too much on local mandates as to when businesses and gatherings should be closed, or when/whether to enforce stay-at-home orders.
Even “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy is on board with masks. “I think that if the president wore one, it would just set a good example. He’d be a good role model. I don’t see any downside to the president wearing a mask in public. MAGA should now stand for ‘Masks Are Great Again.’ Let me give you some marketing advice right there.”
The LA Times reported on July 3, “As California faces an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, officials desperate to keep people inside and away from crowds that will spark new infections are facing a challenging reality. Even though COVID-19 is just as dangerous as ever, people are less afraid of it, and that lack of fear during the Fourth of July weekend could bring disaster.” Throughout the country, social distancing protocols are clearly breaking down.
As the Boston Globe reported recently, “With confirmed coronavirus cases spiking across the Sun Belt states, a range of evidence suggests that a job market recovery may be stalling. In those states and elsewhere, some restaurants, bars and other retailers that had re-opened are being forced to close again.” It’s also causing a strain on the medical infrastructure.
The Census Bureau notes “Adults in Households With Children Report Higher Rate of Late Housing Payments and Food Shortages Amid COVID-19.”