There is new snow in Montana. There is unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast. It’s overcast, rainy, breezy and cool in the Pacific Northwest. It is November 8, 2020. But we are coming out of the worst storm many of us have ever seen… the storm of hate, division, fear, hunger, pain, racial violence, massive fires, tornadoes, floods and the unthinkable virus sicknesses and deaths. Like all huge storms, it is breaking up slowly, massive winds dying down, the blizzards and rains abating. And now, small breaks in the heavy cloud cover, revealing the most welcome patches of blue we might have ever seen.
And here we still are, somehow. Still here, still able to now take a deep breath, look around and think we might have actually made it. I would guess that many of us had help of one sort or another, perhaps a life raft or life boat of some sort, be it religious belief, blind hope or an abiding belief in the human spirit and our ability to somehow conquer all in the name of right and decency.
Hmph. History is quick to point out to us how many countries and civilizations have fallen to this storm. Historians and civics mavens will tell us they can see the big storm coming beforehand, yet have never found a way to avoid it, nor have they accurately predicted its outcome and ultimate affect it will have on us.
I know many of us thought this particular deadly storm wouldn’t hit us, that we were protected by the intangible powers of our Constitution, the tangible powers of our outstanding medical facilities and perhaps, just a general sense of what we know to be honesty and decency. Yes, a sense of national honesty and decency, of plenty of life boats to go around, if you will.
Wrong! Well, not totally wrong, but a ride through a storm like we thought we’d never see, with a national response that we weren’t prepared for, that rocked us and had us, for awhile, virtually helpless in its howling grip.
It was a dandy, wasn’t it? And still the bitter winds of racial injustice blow hard across our nation, with only the tiniest sliver of sunlight piercing the still heavy clouds of systemic racism. Turns out our life rafts didn’t hold as many folk as we needed, and there were holes in them that we didn’t even know were there… that shouldn’t have been there. All our life-saving devices, our Constitution, our hospital system, our police departments, our big city governments, have been bent and sometimes broken. No, we sure weren’t ready for this baby!
My sweetie, Betty Ann, helped me through some of the worst parts with quiet, reassuring logic that kept me somewhat grounded and ready for the next blast of madness. Personally, though, there was no life raft of religion for me, no blind hope that all would eventually be well. I mostly treaded water, not knowing from moment to moment how it all might end while hating how I feared it would end. I was not hopeful, as I knew a little of how other huge storms of hate and division and disease have turned out. It was then that I learned I have no belief in the love and understanding of humans in large numbers. My horrifying realization was that we are mostly sheep… stupid, egotistical, blind sheep.
And there were so many shards of broken glass and missed opportunities in this giant storm, too many for us to deal with effectively. We were busy dodging the flying shards we could see, only to be hit from behind by others, As our ship began to pitch and roll, our captain disappeared into his cabin, leaving us out on the deck with little protection. We were all forced to grab what we could to protect ourselves and try to ride it out on our own. I saw friends and relatives with their arms reaching out for answers, some knowing where there was safety and trying to shout it into the raging storm, but nearly no one was listening, and those who did hear, did nothing.
Were there some disasters? Sure, some of us lost our homes to fire and flood. Some lost their loved ones to police brutality. Were there deaths? Oh yeah, racial deaths across the country, deaths from fires and floods, and pandemic deaths upwards of 237,000 as of this writing. Yup, it was quite the storm. And still, though there are some breaks in the clouds, other dark, ominous clouds loom on the horizon. It’s not over yet. Not nearly.