Never Have I Ever…

I always have enjoyed hearing celebrities play this game, never more than when I heard Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart comparing what they have and haven’t done. But I never thought in my lifetime I’d be living in my own episode of “Never Have I Ever”.

I’ve never lived through a pandemic (OK technically I STILL haven’t lived THROUGH it, given that we’re still in the middle of it) so I probably should amend it to I’ve never experienced a pandemic before.

I’ve never seen such careless disregard for other humans.

I’ve never seen so much animosity and hatred over what makes us different from each other.

I’ve never seen my city on fire, and experienced a curfew (as an adult) before that first week in June

I’d never been so afraid before.

That was a rough week, from wondering when the other shoe will drop with COVID, to watching peaceful demonstrations turn into riots, looting and mayhem. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised at how people behave. I try to avoid going to stores as much as I can, and when I am out in public, the number of people that don’t wear masks, that get just too close, boggle the mind. Yeah, I know, there are a lot of folks out there that think COVID is a hoax. All I can say is, well if I’m wrong and it is a hoax, then the worst thing that happens is that I look silly.  But if THEY’RE wrong, and it isn’t a hoax? They’re putting themselves, their family members, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers all at risk. Why? Why is it so important to be right about this? Is it worth dying for?

It’s not just about not wearing masks, either. The rotten behaviors that I read about that are so extreme are just NUTS. People who spit on others just to “give them COVID”, or go and open ice cream in a store and lick it, just to spread the germs, or deliberately cough in people’s faces. It goes on and on and on. Those morons are just making it that much harder for everyone else, like our front-line health care workers. I have a niece who is just beginning the second year of her residency at a busy Level 1 trauma center, and every shift she is at work means another day of risk for her, as they are short on the critically needed personal protective equipment. Anyone else wonder where the hell the millions of masks that 3M was turning out every day have ended up? I know where they are not…and my best friend was just exposed through her job so we had that to worry about too, although she’s fine.

If those weren’t enough – and they were – we were brutally reminded of how far we have yet to go in eliminating racism. Living where we do, we’re pretty insulated so it’s easy to forget that it hasn’t disappeared from our country until something ugly happens, like the neo-nazi rallies that periodically pop up, or when a certain member of congress (who just lost his primary race, I might add and not a moment too soon) that lives in a neighboring state repeatedly makes racist and white supremacist comments. The events of the last several weeks, however, have been so powerful and painful that I suspect they’ll result in “where were you when…” conversations. “Where were you when you learned George Floyd had been killed” “Where were you when you saw the video”? “Where were you when the demonstrations started”? and “Where were you when the riots started and Minneapolis went up in flames?”

Along with thousands, I watched the video of George Floyd’s last moments with horror and unbelievable sadness. I can’t imagine what those former officers were thinking, what went wrong in their twisted logic that allowed them to think this was acceptable. It’s NEVER ok to do that, never, never, never. Derek Chauvin has been charged with 2nd degree murder, which in Minnesota is defined in part as “Whoever… causes the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim, when the perpetrator is restrained under an order for protection and the victim is a person designated to receive protection under the order.”   (MN Statute 609.19).  So would a reasonable person, watching that video, think that Derek Chauvin fit that description? Yup.

The delay in arresting him, and further delays in arresting anyone else, changed a time of peaceful protests to rioting, looting and arson fires. And not just any old thing was set on fire, either. The first night it was the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct station house, along with many nearby businesses. The next night, the 5th Precinct. By the third night, the National Guard had been called out, along with more reinforcements and we sat home in fear and sadness, having no idea of what was going to happen from one minute to the next.

It took nearly a week before things really calmed down, but they’ll never be normal. Maybe that’s OK though. Maybe we’ll come out better on the other side, less worrying about someone’s color and more about what they demonstrate about their character. After all, what’s the definition of character? It’s what you do when no one is looking. So how about if we all act like we can’t see what someone LOOKS like, and we can only see what they are DOING.

I bet we’d meet some really cool people that way.

Black and Brown Lives Matter.