there is no liberation
I find that the President's words don’t add value to my understanding of things. On the contrary, he muddies the waters. And that’s generous. I also stand by the old adage that actions speak louder than words. Say something you believe in, that’s great. Live and breathe those beliefs in your leadership, I’m on board. Even if I don’t believe the same things, I support integrity.
If you say one thing and act in an opposing way, we have a problem. And, we have a problem. (Fully acknowledging this is not the first time and with a heavy sigh, knowing it's not the last.)
Yesterday I encountered some of his words — a series of tweets screaming (all caps) to liberate the states that are under stay-at-home orders from their Governors.
Here’s the rub. I’ve talked about this. You cannot force your way out of a virus. There is no liberation. There is only sit-your-ass-down and wait. Think of the luxury of this. Most of us are not hiding in basements while bombs drop. We only have to stay inside while CNA’s, respiratory therapists, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, and shelf stockers, postal workers, Amazon delivery folks, gas station attendants save. our. lives. This is our front-line of defense. Not soldiers standing on a war line. Doctors and nurses sacrificing everything to combat this virus.
When we look at food chains, there is a top predator in every biotic system. In Yellowstone, this is the wolf. In parts of the ocean where the conditions are just right, this is the great white shark. On the savannah, the lion. They are large physically and/or in numbers. You can see them. Their prey has co-evolved to both feed them and have evasive maneuvers to escape from them. Predators control populations in a beautiful symphony of balance. Read the ecology of fear. Because, science.
Humans both fit into this concept and don’t. We are also top predators, but we have developed tools to manipulate systems so that we can meet our energy demands. Our hunter/gatherer status in the food chain is now warped (in the ecological sense) by industrial ways. We have cattle yards and agriculture and we don’t wake up in the morning thinking about evading a predator. (although, I think about that a lot when I’m hiking.) We have medicine to prolong our lives and heal us, where injuries and illness in the wild are often the end of that animal. We are the top predator with no predator. Except.
In a fascinating and bizarre plot twist, a novel virus becomes an unseen predator. We do wake up and think about evading something so small we can’t see it and therefore it is difficult to understand unless we know someone or have it ourselves. There is a line of soldiers. The science of this (yes, science) is understood by an army of well-trained professionals. The front line. They get it. They are doing their best to fight this battle. They need equipment. They’re not getting any from our federal leaders. We are killing the very people, the only people, that can fight this war.
I also saw the news that this man was the first sitting President to speak at the pro-life march in Washington DC this year. Surrounded by people claiming to be guided by their faith, he spoke of the value of life.
The United States currently has the most deaths from Covid than any other country in the world. We’re number one. People’s lives are ending when they don’t have to because there is a lack of coordinated response, testing, PPE and states are having to compete for resources Hunger-Games-style while the man in the white tower who smells of blood is entertained by their desperation.
And then these two. Two men who are not epidemiologists and claim Christian values speak to sacrifice people to the virus as if it is pest control. Sorry, boys. There are ethical responsibilities that come with the title of Dr - first, you must declare when we're out of our fields. Do you know what I do when I am out of my depth or expertise? I. stop. talking. Tune them out, people. They are just noise.
So many actions are not aligned with words. This is not pro-life. This is not led by compassion and grace taught by Christian principles. This is bullshit.
So who are we liberating and from what? The predator is invisible to those of us behind the front lines. Those of us being compliant because it’s the only way to emerge from this with lives intact. Unlike an enemy that we can see and physically push back against, the only thing we can do to reduce the number of cases is sit-our-asses-down and provide resources to the front line.
Pushing into the streets. Pushing out of our shelters. Pushing back against the Governors. Those are futile efforts. And that futility is not determined by a man. The virus doesn’t give a shit about our economy. It thrives where our economic structures thrive - in the exchange of things from person to person it rides happily along finding new hosts. How do we liberate ourselves from the rule of illness?
By sitting down.
This is so hard. Resilience is not forced. It’s not wo/man-handled into existence. It rides along with persistence and patience. And this is the most challenging part of this pandemic. To this silent predator. It does not answer to political persuasions. It dies as we rest.
To be taken as a core value, pro-life must mean all life. Including the lives of those on the front lines who are dying to save us. And if we burn through that front line - if THOSE lives are lost on the altar of our economy, we are in trouble.
And all we have to do is sit. down.
Are people hungry? Yes. Have people burned through their savings because their restaurants are shuttered? Yes. I know them, you know them. It’s devastating. Heart-breaking. The toll of this is high. It’s a pandemic for a reason. Is the economy important? YES. But sending people back into the economic churn only supports the rising death toll. People who are losing their lives. We call this a wicked problem because there is not an A+B=C solution. And there is no liberation.