I thought the first two months of the global virus outbreak was tough, then last month rolled in. The video of Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting in Georgia went viral in early May, and the footage of George Floyd being choked to death was viewed nationwide on May 25th. Both events saddened me, and have sparked demonstrations nationwide about the racial divide and police use of force.
Without video, it’s unlikely that either case would have resulted in charges. This is particularly evident with the Arbery shooting, where the event itself happened on February 23rd, but no charges were filed until the video was leaked three months later.
It’s encouraging to me that technology can assist in social change, and bring a face and a personality to victims that might otherwise be dismissed, and have been in the past. I don’t understand how anyone can watch George calling for his Mama while he’s dying and not feel something.
It’s also undeniably horrifying to watch people being murdered live on the news, more so when in repetition, and very difficult to handle when the outlet in question doesn’t treat the subject matter with respect.
Everyone is struggling
With all of that happening on top of a three month shutdown of almost every facet of normal life, I’ve been reminding myself that everyone is struggling right now, and a great way to help each other is to admit it. It’s been encouraging to me to speak to friends and listen to their struggles, and share my own. Setting aside the major problems – job loss, hospitalizations, evictions, funerals no one can attend, small business bankruptcies – many people feel isolated, physically and socially. Nobody knows when air travel will go back to normal. Dining out at restaurants or even getting coffee or a haircut is still difficult in many states. As businesses reopen, cases are rising in many states, and discussion of new shutdowns and travel bans has already begun. Nobody knows when life will go back to normal. It’s draining.
I have personally taken refuge in physical labor. I’ve spent the last month renovating my parent’s porch/mudroom, putting in new floors, beadboard on the walls, electrical work, trim, and paint. Working with my hands clears my head, which is one of the things I love about it. You can tangibly see your progress after a day’s work. We had a few days that were over 90 that I didn’t work, and I was miserable – I didn’t even realize how much it was helping me until I wasn’t working. I’ve also been calling and texting friends to check in, playing cards over Zoom with family, meeting on Zoom once a week with guys from my church, and reading more books while watching less TV.
I don’t know what the coming months will bring, but I’m hopeful that soon, I can hug my friends and family again, visit them in their homes, and travel without fear. And I hope to see our nation unified more than ever, not divided, in the face of adversity.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” -Martin Luther King Jr.