And

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Since the start of this pandemic, I’ve observed a narrative play out in which some see the terrible side effects of this virus, and come to the conclusion that either COVID is not real or could be solved by reopening when reopening could cause more terrible things to happen to other people.

The thing is, none of our options are good or easy right now. None of us are experts in how to handle this, and I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for pain and tragedy and frustration of this magnitude.

But here is something I want us to hold in our minds:

Tens of thousands have died unnecessarily from COVID, and more are dying every day.

A N D

Jobs and businesses and dreams are being ravaged.

A N D

Kids are missing their friends and milestones and graduations.

A N D

Some are navigating extraordinary personal grief and tragedy in the midst of this.

A N D

People are fighting depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in isolation. Some have lost.

A N D

Loved ones have died and are dying alone.

A N D

People are arguing venomously in some of the only places we can socialize.

A N D

The government has failed and is failing us at the highest levels.

A N D

The virus is not a hoax.

A N D

Everything is being questioned.

A N D

The future feels unsure.

A N D

The world is such a scary place.

 

It’s not one or the other.

It’s not “this pain is bigger than that pain.”

It’s and, and, and.

 

It’s all real.

And it is so much hurt to hold. I know.

But if there is anything I’ve learned from my life it’s that pain has a miraculous ability to make our hearts expand if we allow it.

So let’s allow it.

Let this make us demand better for our future instead of fighting the wind of a virus we can’t control.

Let this split any privilege we hold right open to see how some of our neighbors have always struggled, long before this pandemic hit:

  • Many disabled or seriously ill people live in isolation all the time
  • People struggling with mental health always face stigmas and barriers to getting help
  • Families are forced into poverty for generations because of a broken healthcare system
  • Black and indigenous people face higher mortality rates because of prejudice in receiving healthcare and generational traumas that manifest as various health conditions

The list goes on, and none of these problems will be solved by just reopening our country.

Let it humble us that some of us are just now knowing this fight.

And though I wish it didn’t take experiential knowledge to show compassion, now that we do feel this violent ache, let this irrevocably change us.

Don’t go back to normal if normal means being blissfully unaware of the pain of others.

If you feel overwhelming anger from all of this, first of all, that is so valid and understandable. But can I ask, have you let yourself grieve? Have you set down the phone or the frustrations long enough to weep over all of this? Over everything precious that has been lost?

Because if all we get out of this is a bigger sense of entitlement, a lingering frustration of only our own problems and a strong distrust of our fellow man—oh we have done our own souls and our neighbors a tragic disservice

What if we let this grief widen our hearts with compassion instead of just anger? What if our votes and words and lives became more generous because of it?

As some have said— what if we let this radicalize us? But not with false freedom that loudly fights for its own interests, but with a radical, imaginative love that won’t quit until…

you

A N D

Me

A N D

our neighbors

A N D

our enemies

are ALL cared for.

Until we’re all free.

No more scarcity, please.

In the empathy and pain and possibility: and, and, and.

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