Life and death

*A draft from a few weeks ago that I never released. Interesting to read it just after the election since I wrote it just before.

2020. It will forever be a warning, a flashback, a joke, a survival story, a sad story, and a story with a lot of laughs and jokes sprinkled in.

The memes just keep circulating. The division, furthered by an election year that stands to benefit from the polarity from one end or the other, depending on which end you stand on, has only amplified every single issue.

But there is something much deeper going on then the crazy predictions of 2020 bingo. We are dealing with a lot. But we are always dealing with a lot. What’s different this year is not so much masks, restrictions on our speech, violation of our privacy, as it is life… life and death.

All of the big issues of 2020 have been issues of life and death. The virus is the most obvious of them all. Some people believe it’s real. Some people believe everyone who has lost someone has either made it up, been lied to, or is part of the conspiracy. In the middle of it, you’ve got to be pretty off your rocker not to understand that no matter how important you think it is, many lives have been lost, and many more lives are at risk depending on the decisions people make, and sometimes, depending on the decisions other people make for you. That’s heavy.

Add to this, the fact that our children are not immune to this. I mean, yes, they are less likely to be affected to the same degree. But they are not immune to what is happening. They are feeling the stress and the burden of worrying that they will get their parents or their grandparents sick. That they will become sick and their parents will be mad because they didn’t follow directions. They are worried they will get their teachers sick. When a student is absent, they probably worry that the student could die. I can’t imagine the long-term effects of this, whether our students are in classrooms or at home. They will be affected in some way. We all will be. But again, it is not just adults dealing with this. It is also children. And it is still life and death. What life and death issues did you really have to worry about as a child? Looking both ways before you cross a street? Not touching snakes or spiders if you don’t know what kind they are? Not talking to strangers? Did you have to worry about breathing on someone, or getting too close? Or forgetting your mask and killing them by accident?

OK let’s forget about the masks. How about the schools? Surely we can open the schools. That’s definitely something we all know is necessary. But… Do we open the schools physically and risk children and teachers dying? Or do we try to do this virtually, knowing that it will be substandard education compared to face-to-face, but will keep everyone alive? And for how long will we need to do this? It’s hard to commit to some thing not knowing how long it will last. Again, for all parents and teachers, this has been a life and death decision. Some desperately needs school services, or confidently believe the schools can protect their children. That because their children are healthy, they will probably be fine. But a part of them is worried. It has to be. I can’t imagine the parent who will have to live with being the first parent to lose a child because they had to send them back for any number of reasons. Or to see what these kids will go through when a teacher dies. Life and death. They’re too young for this.

Then there’s the racism. Racist law-enforcement officers are being caught left and right doing things they shouldn’t, sometimes resulting in death. Good officers are being targeted because of the actions of others. The same is happening in the black community. People are being targeted just because they are black. Black police officers are in a position where they feel unaccepted and unsupported by either group they belong to. And at the end of the day, whether you are in a uniform, or trying to protest for equal rights and treatment, it’s a life and death situation. Many police officers don’t make it home. Many unarmed black men don’t make it home. Life and death.

People are dying, and just when it seems like we might be turning the corner, some of us live in states where our leadership has failed. We live in a world that is supposed to be all about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, but where everything is being manipulated by a government that has no problem misleading the American people, as long as it results in political gain. Even if it means giving out false information that will put lives in danger simply because they did not have the information they needed so that they could make safer decisions. Life and death.

I don’t know what the rest of the year has in store for us. But I know 2020 has shown no signs of slowing down. With the election just weeks away, I wish I could go to sleep and wake up in February after the inauguration. And whatever comes after it. I suspect this will be one of the strangest elections ever. I just want everyone to remember one thing. If by some chance, the president is reelected for another term, please remember all of the ads, speeches and tweets about how this promises to be a fraudulent election. Because the only person who would be making those accusations now, would be somebody who expects to lose.

In the meantime, take it easy on each other. People have lost loved ones without being able to say goodbye. People have had scares they have made them appreciate life and people they love in ways they never thought they could. People have had to really search themselves for answers about difficult questions and make big decisions. Life and death decisions. Try to show each other a little grace. Somebody showed me grace early in the year, and it became my word for the year.

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