A (Non-Conspiracy) Theory for Putting Out 2020's Epic Dumpster Fire

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and sat on it before hitting "publish." I didn't want to sound naive and tone deaf. However, reading it back, I think it's still worth sharing what's been weighing on my heart these last few months as the world seems to burn around us. 

Every Saturday morning, Chuck and I drive the boys to their swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Dayton. We live in a fairly rural area so it's a solid 40 minute drive. Because we both work full-time Monday-Friday, it often feels like we barely see each other during the work week. We hustle at our 9-to-5's, I scramble to make dinner before he gets home, and then he will either take the boys to the park so I can get things accomplished around the house, or we try to have some semblance of decompression while our maniacs run rampant until it's time to initiate bath and bedtime.

Those 40-minute drives on Saturday mornings are our opportunity to catch up from the chaos of the week and check-in with each other. Those 40-minute drives are when our best conversations happen.

This past weekend, like most couples are these days I'm sure, we were discussing current events. We both expressed how surreal it is to be living through a time that will be written about in history books. Just as people who lived through WWII and The Great Depression did, this is real life. It is just such a strange time to be in this world.

My range of emotions about living in the time of Coronavirus has run the gamut. Some days I'm doing okay and appreciate that I work for a responsible organization who is working tirelessly to keep its employees safe. I appreciate the fact that I have the capability to work remotely from home- mere minutes from my children and their schools. But most days, my highly-sensitive, empathetic nature proves to be as much a curse as it is a blessing. Some days I am just depressed and tired of feeling, and hurting, and watching helplessly as the world seemingly burns to the ground. 

I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way, but with everyone in isolation the loneliness and separation from my community can mess with my head. It's also unfortunate that during a time when we need to be in solidarity more than ever, our politics only continue to divide us. Here's the thing I've been thinking about, though. It's not unique for their to be political contention in an election year, but I'm exhausted of the fight being marketed as being between Democrats vs. Republicans, Right vs. Left, Liberals vs. Conservatives. 

The fight is not Americans vs. Other Americans. The fight should be Americans vs. Coronavirus. The fight should be Americans vs. Political Corruption. The fight should be Americans vs. Racism, Xenophobia, and other types of bigotry that are hurting us collectively. The talking heads, the media, and the institutions that yield their power over us may have us distracted and believing the fight is amongst ourselves, but it's not. 

It's deeply upsetting to me that freedom, liberty, and patriotism- the values that we pledge our allegiance to- have become synonyms for selfishness and narcissism. I was young when 9/11 happened, but it was the first event to awaken my political consciousness. And while I may not have fully understood the gravity of what had happened, nor what terrorism even was, I witnessed Americans coming together- unifying- against a common enemy. We stood together and both physically and metaphorically had each other's backs. We had a leader who grieved alongside us and inspired us. 

What happened to America circa 2001? I have my theories. However, I don't think this country needs another conspiracy theorist with a blog. What this country is in dire need of is KINDNESS and EMPATHY. I am not suggesting that issues like systemic racism and voter suppression can be done away with some random acts of kindness. But I am suggesting that perhaps, kindness and empathy could cure a lot more smaller pains and evils. And maybe if we're not so all-consumed by the smaller issues, we'll each have more capacity to confront the larger, scarier and more complex ones. 

Perhaps, I'm way off base and I'm taking a naive and simplistic approach. But I'm willing to be wrong if it means that people in my immediate community feel more heard, more loved, more encouraged, more inspired, and more understood. 

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