I love storms, even when they are frightening.
When I look at the timing of COVID-19 and what has erupted from the brutal killing of George Floyd, I see not only a storm but a perfect storm — an opportunity for deep examination, for the realization of relationship, for the letting go of what’s been and what’s been destroyed, and for the chance to birth new.
There is no argument that COVID-19 is a disease and often a deadly one. Racism, too, is a disease and a mortally deadly one. As I see it, there are many similarities between COVID-19 and racism.
This is what I see:
- COVID-19 is highly contagious.
- Racism is highly contagious.
- COVID-19 is spread person-to-person, mostly through emissions from our mouths, although possibly, also, from touch.
- Racism is spread person-to-person, often from oral emissions and, also, from touch, usually meant to harm and sometimes kill.
- COVID-19 cruelly and swiftly infects when brought into our institutions, often causing communal suffering and death.
- Racism cruelly and rampantly infects when brought into our institutions, causing individual and societal suffering and death.
- COVID-19 requires individuals to take immediate and consistent action to avoid contracting and spreading the disease.
- Racism requires individuals to take immediate and consistent action to eradicate personal infection and to prevent its spread.
We know how to quell disease. Look what we’re doing to squelch the spread of COVID-19. With grumbling but not much resistance, we’ve instantaneously changed the way we live, work and play. We have cared for ourselves and one another by respecting safe distance. We have chosen to respect each other by wearing masks when we are in close proximity.
We have cared for those who are more at risk of COVID-19 by providing food, protective gear, shelter and moral support. We have taught our kids to see the value of healthcare workers and other essential workers whom we otherwise overlook or devalue. We have even willingly abstained from what we love — recreation, travel, affections, social gatherings, cultural entertainments, sporting events — to ensure our individual health and that of our communities.
Destructive inequities long disregarded have been blaringly exposed by infection and death stats. We can be decisively responsive. We have immediate proof that what we do as individuals affects us all, locally and globally. We are acting together to eradicate the pandemic of COVID-19.
And, we can — and must — eradicate the pandemic of racism in the same manner.
The following are four small steps you can take to be aware of your bigotry and to eliminate it.
Know your family history. Be aware of what might currently be in your ancestral and familial DNA and in your unconscious. Our cells contain memories of experience, of regret, of rage that can be expressed through generations via our DNA. Change the terror of your past, and of the future, by altering your relationship with your cellular inheritance. We are dynamic beings. Shift can and must happen. Educate yourself and live with dignity for all, including self.
Forgiveness powerfully heals yourself and others.
Take your temperature, often. How do you feel when someone blames blacks, men, women, Jews or immigrants for (fill in the blank)? Recognize your tacit or explicit agreement. Do you alert the accuser that their remarks are bigoted and offensive? The unwillingness to call yourself and others out on their prejudice makes you a participant in furthering racism.
Hate applied to any being, including self, is still hate. Be gentle and tender as you discover yourself and others. Persevere through what will be a long journey.
Be aware of your oral emissions. We wear masks for COVID-19 but need to unmask to eliminate racism. We need to be free of prejudice, cruelty, and incitement to fear, division and violence. We need to speak language that reflects these truths.
Practice curiosity. Seek to learn rather than to judge.
Nurture yourself and the world. We, the human race (yep, only one race), are infinitely capable of seeing and valuing one another and creating safety and thriving for all.
Be an essential life, knowing that we are each equally essential. There is enough (no hoarding needed!) for us all to thrive. Choose optimally for our collective well-being.
Thank you, perfect storm, for stirring me up and making the storming inescapable this time. Thank you, perfect storm, for this opportunity to know our internal and collective divisions so that together we can create a more equitable, flourishing city and world.
To all who have raised your voices, thank you for elevating my awareness and the possibilities of humanity.