“Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.”~ Sojourner Truth.
What is your comfort food? We humans have some very strange practices, often wasting energy on activities that have no tangible benefits. The compulsive repetitive practices of people with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) begin with basic healthy principles (such as hand washing, checking to see if doors are locked) which evolve into crippling obsessions. Worry is another one. We may have a situation that is beyond our control, or one that has taken on huge significance when it shouldn’t, and we waste our precious restorative sleeping hours tossing and turning and changing nothing.
When I was a student nurse I remember observing a very strange practice. We had a patient who had some kind of contagious disease, and of course the proper thing to do is to place that patient in isolation. Which requires being in a private or at least semi-private room. English hospitals were not set up that way at the time. Even on the updated wards you would have six to eight patients in a ‘bay’, and perhaps one or two ‘side-wards’ which were smaller, and usually saved for patients who were dying. There being no such side ward available for this patient, we were instructed to roll a set of portable curtains around the patient’s bed. I was (and still am) unclear on how this was supposed to contain the infectious organisms. Perhaps they could not climb? Perhaps they would heed the warning and stay in one place? Somehow it made the powers-that-be feel better, they placed a sign on the curtains and told us to do our best.
I often wonder how effective the on-line petitions that pop up on our social media time-lines are. I am sure I have given the data collectors enough information about my political and social convictions by placing my name and address on countless sites that ask us to show our concern about immigrant children, women’s rights and many more. But since I rarely then also add a donation, am I really doing anything? Or is it more comfort food for my conscience?
The other day I found myself moderately amused to see a cable TV news personality (white female) get extremely angry regarding comments made by another media personality (and lawyer to our country’s leader) about the woman at the heart of our leader’s woes. The news lady was hot under the collar at the disparaging and disrespectful comments made about the woman (white) who earns her living as a porn star. It suddenly hit me at how bogus and frivolous it can be to rage against words, when the actions of a country against women of color cost lives and destroy families, not mere feelings. It is hard to keep track of the examples each day of the extremes: black lives ended in confrontations with police; white people escorted away from similar confrontations.
But there are more stories that don’t make front page news. Did you know that Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered than non-Native Americans? That one in three have been the victim of rape or attempted rape? That the number of Native American women that go missing each year is not even known, as they may not even be reported? There is a movie ‘Wind River’ that depicts one such story, a story that deserves to be more widely known. As bad as things are for people of color in this country, the injustices that continue to be perpetrated against the original citizens are hidden, barely causing a ripple in our daily consciousness.
It is hard to keep track (especially in our current climate) of all of the causes that we should be supporting. Quite apart from the outrageous and unethical behavior of the head of the EPA, are you aware that he is quietly dismantling many of the environmental protections that will keep our lands and people safe? Then did you hear about the jury that awarded $4 to the family of a black man killed by the police – shot through his closed garage door, but it was his fault apparently. How many times a day can we shocked, outraged, and offended about the latest injustice?
I have to commend those who dedicate their lives to a cause, who constantly put themselves out there to protest, to call for change, to mount campaigns, to spread the word. We may feel that we are powerless, but there are things we can do. Making phone calls to senators, voting, keeping yourself informed, helping to raise awareness, they may seem to be little actions but they add to the momentum, the call for change. The poem by Martin Niemoller should remind us why it is crucial that we are not silent:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
There is power in numbers, and there are many things we can do to make our voices heard. Let us continue to pay attention, to fight against inhumanity anywhere, to support the struggles of others, whether they look like us, talk like us, love like us or not. It was an uneducated, illiterate African slave who gave me the quote at the top of this piece, and wasn’t she a woman too?
This Friday morning may you find your voice, and use it to speak for those without one. Have a wonderful weekend Family!