Last night, in a dream, a black bear was somehow in our apartment. We were a bit freaked and didn’t know what to do. I had an idea of opening the sliding glass doors so he could get outside. Of course, we don’t live in an apartment and we don’t have any sliding glass doors⎼ but it’s a dream.
After I snuck around the bear toward the doors, I realized our dog, about the size of a Lab, was asleep by the doorway and I feared waking him. I didn’t know what he would do. Then the bear noticed the dog and jumped up on top of the bookcase near me. By the way, we also don’t have a dog, although I have been wanting one.
Suddenly discovering we have a bear in our home would definitely constitute a dramatic change in our daily routine. But a black bear is one of the smaller, less aggressive bears. I always thought they were cute until I saw the mangled mess one of them made of our bird feeder. But let’s imagine it was a grizzly in our home, a truly dangerous creature. What then?
And we do have a dangerous creature in our homes now or are afraid of one. Or afraid of two. There is a meme going around that we are faced with two pandemics, COVID-19 and ignorance⎼ the virus and the ignorant, incompetent and malignant response to it by DT.
Most people facing a bear in their dreams, or awake, would hopefully avoid panic and open that door, push the dog out of the way, and let the bear out. But right now, many of us are afraid and feel powerless and don’t know how to get the grizzly out the door. But maybe we can simultaneously take care of ourselves as we take care of our world.
The Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote a prose-poem just after World War II about the Holocaust. Many of us know it. It was a confession of how German intellectuals and the Church stood by as one group after another was murdered by Nazis. “First, they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist… Then the trade unionists…then the socialists… then the Jews…Then they came for me.”
The Nazis were the grizzly in the house of the Germans and instead of forcing the grizzly out, they invited it to stay. And millions were killed.
Today, in my opinion, DT is acting with almost as much evil as the Nazis, and the GOP is supporting what he does. But about 52% of us or more are quite aware of the malignant grizzly in our nation. Almost three years ago thousands, or hundreds of thousands spoke out when the GOP tried to end the ACA and destroy our health care system. We demonstrated in the streets and Congressional offices and called Congress. And we stopped that legislation.
Of course, the pandemic greatly limits what political action we can take today to oppose him. But how many of us are calling Congress now?
DT’s attacks are not just continuing during the pandemic but are getting worse or faster-paced. When he first took office, he went after Muslims as well as immigrants from Latin America. We defeated his first Muslim bans, but he continued his attacks, especially against immigrants of color, even separating breast-feeding children from their mothers. There were gigantic demonstrations against this, and against the increasing gun violence in schools and elsewhere. All we could do was slow him down, but we did that.
These attacks by DT were horrendous and seemed to be meant to shock and dishearten us. So many of us, even before the pandemic, were suffering from anxiety and disbelief. We are now almost numbed by the sheer volume of attacks.
But we can’t give him what he wants. He wants us to forget how crazed he becomes by any protests or opposition, so we will feel powerless. Instead, we can remember ⎼ remember how he freaked out over the opposition to Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment or to people telling the truth about his quid pro quo in Ukraine.
DT is using the pandemic as cover for more inhumane acts and there are fewer people in his administration to say “no” to him. He is, unbelievably, going after “essential workers” and replacing the idea of people helping people or “we’re all in this together” with “we must sacrifice some for the good (or profit) of others.”
DT first sacrificed doctors, nurses and other first-responders by not providing and even more by seizing needed medical supplies. Over 9000 US healthcare workers had contracted the virus by the last week in April, and the CDC reported that 27 had died. But the National Nurses United union disputes that. Their count is 48 nurses dead. Since that number does not include doctors, EMTs, etc., the number of health care workers who have died from the virus is much higher.
And now DT is sacrificing workers in meat-packing plants, many of whom are immigrants. He is basically treating them as slaves, forcing them to risk either getting sick, dying, or infecting others with the illness, or starving ⎼ starving because DT is denying them unemployment insurance if they cite a fear of the virus as a reason to not go back to work.
And it’s not just meat-processors. In GOP led states like Iowa, workers in all sorts of occupations are being forced to go back to work, now, despite increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, or lose their unemployment. Who’s next?
He is trying to hide from the American people the truth about the illness, his ignorance, his malignant handling of the coronavirus, and his lies ⎼ Or his giving billionaires 80% of the benefit from tax changes in the pandemic relief legislation. After all this, billionaires could be the only ones left solvent and healthy.
And this enrages me. We might not call Congress because we think it will do no good or we are consumed by fear and worry. Worrying about the pandemic and its affects is getting to us all. But more than fear is anger at what he is doing to us and our world. It probably enrages all of us.
When we don’t act, we feel burdened by what we don’t do. When we act out of care and compassion, we feel strengthened. We protect not only ourselves but others. We can take a breath, and then make a call, or find some creative ways to respond. A phone call to a politician usually takes about 30 seconds.
Even when we’re isolated in our homes to protect ourselves and others, we can put signs on our cars when we drive anywhere, send letters, and use our phones. We can’t spread the virus through the phones. We can, instead, spread the opposition. We can turn the sound of the phone ringing into the sound that pushes the grizzly of ignorance and malignancy out the door.