What Have We Learned In The Past 2 Months?

Physician Aliea Herbert administers a test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to a patient at Interbay Village, a village of tiny houses managed by the Low Income Housing Institute, at a mobile testing site run by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, U.S. April 29, 2020. REUTERS/David Ryder

These past two months, we have learned more about ourselves than any of us could have imagined. We have seen sacrifice and greed, safety and recklessness, and hope and despair. Without being invited into our lives, COVID-19 has waged war on families and friends. 

This pandemic has placed on us more than just sickness in our bodies. It has also saddled many of our minds with fear, anxiety, and a sense of uncertainty. Some of us have discovered things that we never noticed before, like a spot on the wall or a crack in the ceiling, all because of the vantage point our new offices at our kitchen tables and dining room tables have provided. 

The words of elected officials have confirmed that some are not worthy of positions of trust and leadership, while others have soared to heights of an earned confidence that is befitting of a battlefield commander. For many, we have learned to become more understanding, more tolerant and more sympathetic, while others of us have seen impatience, disdain, and bigotry fill our minds, fuel our actions and stain our lips.

With all of this, there are questions we must ask ourselves as we reflect on these past two months: What will we be, and who will I be when we emerge from this time of the coronavirus pandemic? How will society address the clear disparities we have witnessed in healthcare, food security, and housing, which carry the markers of income, race and community? Will we get better and will we do better?   

The answers to these questions have yet to be written. But what we must train ourselves to realize is that we now have the gift of stark reality as a compass pointing us to impact those areas of our individual lives and our societal relationships with a greater sense of empathy and a greater dedication to making systemic change.

What these past two months have laid at our feet is the true opportunity to demonstrate our faith and compassion through our deeds and our commitment to help bring joy and security into the lives of those who continue to have the boot of oppression firmly pressed against their necks. We can enter the arena of moral debate and reveal what our hearts feel based on what our eyes have seen. Each of us has a story of learned respect and the uplifting of human dignity that we can share, which can fuel our travels into a more just and a more equitable future. 

If these past two months don’t teach us anything, then the suffering, the death, the sacrifices, and the struggles will have been for nothing. It is my hope and my prayer that we each make a personal decision and then stand together to impact change — that we rededicate ourselves to acts that will tear down the walls of separation, fight the weapons of bias, and reject the other barriers that have so concentrated pain and suffering on some, more than others.

We can do this!     

Frederick K. Brewington is a civil rights attorney with The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington in Hempstead.

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