Sunday, June 28, 2020

Ruth Was More Than A Number

The Only R-word in Our Dictionary is RESPECT | Mary Ellen ...

When you see the number of persons in the U.S. who have died of Covid-19 in the posted statistics, what do you actually see? 

Really. What DO you see? Do you see people or just numbers. Numbers aren't very real, are they? They are easy to dismiss. But what about Ruth?

Ruth was my mother-in-law. She died of Covid-19. We buried her Friday. And, because of the pandemic, it was a rather surreal experience. But she is definitely dead. And we all are grieving her death. And she is only one of those hundreds of thousands of other people who have died from the virus that so many think is no big deal.

Ruth was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. She had cared for her family, taught school, volunteered, was active in her community as long as she was able. She had friends she had stayed in contact with for decades. She would help anyone with anything. She had respect for others, for her country, for her heritage. She was more than a number.

As are each of those others in the "deceased from Covid-19" statistics.

And there are also the people, not in that statistic, who "recovered" with permanent damage to vital organs. They know Covid-19 is a big deal.

I am so offended when I see people not wearing masks and gathering in large groups without distancing  indoors, people who don't think they will get the virus, and even if they do, they won't have a bad case. I am so offended by people who think it is "not a big deal", and therefore don't have to wear a mask..

Maybe they won't get the virus. But they could easily pass it to someone else. And that someone else might have underlying health issues that make it more likely for the virus to take their life or cause permanent damage.

Now, I don't get offended easily. But when people are unwilling to wear a mask to protect those of us that are at high risk for fatal or life threatening cases of the virus, I get offended, feel disrespected. Why are so many people unwilling to care about other people, about their community, or even about whether the spike in cases might close the economy again? It boggles my mind.

A mask is an inconvenience. I don't enjoy wearing one either. But I do. We don't seem to have a problem wearing seat belts, which I find more uncomfortable than the mask. 

We are willing to obey traffic laws, at least most of the time. Why not wear a mask when out in public? 

Most of us respect property lines, we don't trample other peoples plants, we even say "excuse me" if we accidently bump into someone. Respect for others! Why not respect the health of others by wearing a mask?

What has happened to respect for others? How would you feel if you knew that someone died because YOU didn't wear a mask?

S.C. Gov. McMaster says mask requirement unenforceable

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The More You Know, The More You Can Understand

We seem to be seeing a wave or empathy moving through our country. Why now? Why not in all the years before the death of yet another black man?

Empathy is the ability to share and understand each other's experiences. We think of it as an innate trait. But it is really a skill. The correct experiences, habits and practices can increase empathic capacity. The more it is exercised the stronger it becomes. On the other hand, other experiences can cause empathy to atrophy, like a muscle that is unused.

Seeing a police officer kneel on the neck of a man for more than 8 minutes, even after he had obviously lost consciousness, shocked the nation when the video went viral. The officers' obvious lack of concern for the life of a man who was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill was an experience that gave us clear knowledge of the black experience. The ability to share that experience helped us understand what we had ignored for so long.

Researchers have found that power and privilege sap our ability to understand others. Psychologist Michael Kraus and his colleagues measured people's socio-economic status and their ability to decipher emotions in pictures and in-person interactions. They found that people higher in status were less accurate about other people's feelings. And more recent work has replicated these results and also found that high-status people make more errors when trying to take another's perspective.

Empathy is a skill that we need to make the world better. When we know and better understand others, the more we can create peace, inclusivity, collaboration, etc. 

So, if you are someone who wants to make the world better, you need to create experiences where you can get to know people who are different from you in some way, so that you can understand them and know what they are about, what they need or want. Practice listening to others without trying to shape what they say or think. Make a habit of connecting with more people to learn more about them and their lives. 

This is especially important if you are in a leadership role. You will make much better decisions as a result. 

Make this the Empathy Era. 

 (from "Calls for racial justice gained steam with empathy" by Jamil Jaki),

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

What's Compassion Got to Do With It?

Image by UnratedStudio from Pixabay 

Have you been watching T.V.? "No Justice, No Peace," "BLM", "Equal Justice for All," " Defund the Police."

George Floyd.

What is your very first thought when you hear that name, when you see those protesters?

Stop. Think carefully. Was that really your very first thought? Or did you instantly filter it?

If so, it's probably a good thing, a sign that you want to change your thoughts.

Why would you want to do that? My hope is that it is because you felt something when you saw how black men and women have been treated in our country, when you saw how black boys are trained to be careful how they act with police so they won't get killed.

My hope it that sometime during the past week you have had compassion for George Floyd when you watched him being killed. I hope you had compassion for the mothers who have lost their sons to police violence, so often so unnecessary violence. 

I hope you have compassion for the people in the protests that have finally had enough and want more from out country, people who want us all to change how we think about equality, about justice, about racism, and about our part in it. Because we each have a part to change our country for the better.

Compassion is not just a feeling. It is a call to action. Be part of the solution.

I'm an old white lady. I acknowledge my privilege. I continue to address my racist reactions that come from so many years of programming. I see a black man in my white neighborhood and remind myself that he is not a threat. But my first reaction is fear. I'm working on changing that. These are the small things that we need to change, inside ourselves, as part of the solution.

I hope this week has challenged you to explore your own biases and challenge them.

We are all in this together.

Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Too Overwhelmed to Write

                                                              Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

I'm sorry I don't have a decent blog post this week. I'm just too overwhelmed to write with any sense. There is just too much stress.

Of course there is the pandemic and I've be quaranteened since March. Starts to get to me at times. But I'm coping. 

Then I learned about a month ago that my older daughter is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is undergoing powerful chemo every three weeks. She lives in another country.

Then two weeks ago we learned that my 98 year-old mother-in-law is positive for Covid 19 and is in a Covid unit in her senior housing facility. It is three hours away. 

But, in either my daughter or mother-in-law case we can't be there.

Then we watched a police officer murder a black man on video. While we are encouraged by the Black Lives Matter movement's demonstrations growing around the world, and we hope that things will change as a result, it is still disturbing to see the violence that sometimes blows up in the midst of them.

For my 78-year-old spirit, it has just piled up the stress and is just too much. So, I'm begging out of blogging this week.

Stay safe.