It’s been hard to concentrate. Peaceful protests across the country and around the world that began with the murder of George Floyd and have swelled to encompass deeper and broader issues of racial injustice throughout our society demand attention and engagement. And here I sit, because of Covid, wanting to join in but knowing I can’t afford the risks.
I’ve joined several public protests in the past three-and-a-half years—the first Women’s March; several demonstrations protesting treatment of immigrants, including one in Washington, D.C., in Lafayette Park across from the White House; a local march for gun safety. That’s more protests than I ever did when I was growing up in the sixties, because our parents wouldn’t let me and my sister attend anti-Vietnam War and civil rights demonstrations out of fear for our safety. Now I’m 66 years old, older than they were then, during one of the seminal moments in our nation’s history, and I’m stuck at home.
I talked this over with my cardiologist Monday morning, on a previously scheduled phone appointment. He was quite clear that I need to avoid crowds due to my pulmonary risks with scleroderma and the nature of COVID-19. This advice reinforced my earlier conclusions. So I will stay put.
But my heart is with the peaceful demonstrators. And so I have written to our congresspeople, made donations, talked with family and friends across the political spectrum. I read and follow many news sources to stay informed and aware of a range of views. I listen to various podcasts to gain deeper insights and understanding of the profound injustices at stake. Most of all, I hope to find a way to help from home to support free and fair elections—the essential issue this November.
Each of us has to determine how to respond to this moment. It is my prayer that we will find our way to greater empathy for all, a more compassionate and just society, true public safety, and a willingness to really listen to each other in order to get there.
Image: Max Bender