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Dissenting from the Culture of Death

“Whatever revolution we might hope for in our society has a better chance for grounding if it takes hold within us personally and individually.”

Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash

Today67,090 new COVID cases in New York.

Today – 500 more people hospitalized, bringing the total COVID hospitalizations to 6,767.

Today – urgent care medical centers are closing because staffing can’t meet demand.

Today.

Today. I read an article highlighting persons demonstrating against vaccinations, masks, and any and all interventions; while the article situated right beside it highlighted medical professionals at the breaking point, exhausted, demoralized, and angry tired because their facilities are overwhelmed with COVID cases. 

Dissonance. It’s like we are living in a dystopian television series. Today.

I read through the local COVID statistics for New York and was unable to wade through the news for the rest of the country. I am weary. I had to acknowledge my own grief. I am a hugger, for God’s sake! I’ve lost so many people in these last two years. So many. I never had the chance to say goodbye to some of them.

Grief exacerbated by not being able to say goodbye may not seem like a lot to some. But I am carrying a knot of grief the size of my beloveds in my heart. Heavy. Numbered among those lost to me is my sister, Betty.

Sigh.

God has already given us everything we need to work together to write a different story. Dystopian misery is not the intractable will of God. We are not doomed by God to want no more for each other than a wretched
comeuppance.

We can take a position on the wall and declare with the actions of our lives – no more energy-draining shame and ridicule for our neighbors. The times call for loving and hopeful action. No rebuking words, no pontificating words, no lying words, no accusing words, no condescending words, no judgmental words, no hateful words, no partisan words. No more biting words. 

I am just coming to reckon with the weight of my own grief.

This sucks.

I don’t want thoughts and prayers – no more holy words masking inaction and maintenance of the status quo.

Regardless of whether a person was vaccinated before they died, spoke
against vaccinations, or whatever – they left behind communities, people who will spend their lives untying messy knots of grief. That grief will look like anger and rage and stubbornness for some; and depression, reckless behavior, and compassionless actions for others. I wish for all who are hurting – even if they don’t know that they are hurting – a measure of what I need for myself. — the loving presence of God and wise, silent friends. 

Over 820,000 people lost nationwide.

132 deaths in New York on Monday.

77 deaths in New York on Tuesday.

97 deaths in New York today, Wednesday.

306 local hearts stilled. 

There are no words to prepare us for how many we will lose tomorrow.

I hope that Gene Sharp, whose strategies for nonviolent direct action helped to topple repressive governments across the globe, can appreciate and allow for my pastoral reinterpretation of one of his principles. We who want peace, justice, life, and the
possibility of a flourishing tomorrow for everyone, not just the members of our own tribes, will be a strong and compelling force for life only when our preaching, moralizing, and raging is accompanied by the withdrawal of our consent and cooperation with a death-dealing culture that presses us to “move on” – unmindful and dismissive of the 820,000 empty chairs around our dining room tables.

No more violence. Speak, rehearse, over and over again, the hopeful, compassionate, and loving life. I say “rehearse” because choosing love requires practice, discipline, and persistence. Choosing loving behavior that keeps your neighbors safe is not instinctive. It’s not easy. We all swim in the waters of blatant disregard for the dignity of our neighbors.

Maybe that is the dialogue we can have within our circles of influence
today. What does it mean to love our neighbors? How can we support each other to choose love? What role can I play in influencing those in my circle to engage in loving action?

I’m not suggesting that our individual acts and commitments will exempt us from undertaking the massive job ahead of us to create a just and enduring infrastructure of care. What I am saying is that whatever revolution we might hope for in our society has a better chance for grounding if it takes hold within us personally and individually.

In an interconnected world where not having the resources to contain a virus in one country has profound implications for life and health in another country way across the world, hoarding, monetizing, and capitalizing on tests, vaccinations, and treatments is just violent. It is a blatant disregard for humanity.

In the face of children across the globe who have lost both parents to this virus, insisting on the individual right to reject reasonable interventions is a violence that just propels grief into the future, encased in their little parentless bodies. It is a blatant rejection of a hopeful future for us all.

I don’t know what hopeful action action looks like in your neck of the woods. I’m sure that you will know, however. You do know.

In mine, it looks like doing everything I can not to add to the burden of overwhelmed health professionals; not creating risk for my immune-compromised neighbors; and, sharing what I have with those who must choose between safety for their families or food on their tables.

The revolution always begins with the choice to love and to hope. It always begins within.

 

By avoiceinramah

Following The Way. Wife, Mom, Pastor, RevSisterGirlfriend, Advocate. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman. I believe another world is possible.

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