We live in a world that is constantly moving. The world keeps spinning, the wind keeps blowing, the waves keep crashing and we hop from one activity to the next.
With the constant hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, it’s hard to find time to take a break. Yet recently — with a global pandemic — we had to stop. We had to pause and sit and watch.
But, what came with that? Learning how to make banana bread or whipped coffee? Trying new workout routines or interesting hobbies? Maybe even a few new dance challenges that went viral.
We got a chance to stop and smell the roses… and what a beautiful opportunity that was. But what came with it included also noticing that the roses we thought were so sweet had the most sickening thorns.
As we had to stop and watch the world turn, the things that were so easy for most to overlook and pass by began to bubble up to the surface. Realities such as that of underpaid and overworked members of society, human rights violations of undocumented persons and the murder of Black people by an inherently racist and systematically oppressive government-imposed force.
You see, while these may be realities that have been gaining popular attention and participating in national conversation, they are not new. They have been there all along.
The question then is, is this recent conversation a momentous dissolution of America’s gilded facade or was this another trend that people followed during quarantine because it made them feel better about themselves as opposed to just talking about dance moves created by high school celebrities.
My fear is that it may be the latter.
Seeing as how people are focused on returning to normal and going back to the life they had before the pause, there has been a noticeable decrease in the conversation. It has not completely dissipated, yet I fear the tides are turning.
Just because restrictions have been lifted, these atrocities and realities have not eased. We have seen this in the past few days. They are still there and they still demand attention. They demand conversation. They demand change.
To go back to the old ways is a crude disregard to the pains that people face everyday. It is the dismissal of those suffering under an oppressive system. To fight to return to “normal” is selfish and inhumane.
When was the last time you had that uncomfortable conversation? The last time you read something that allowed you to educate yourself? The last time you donated or signed a petition or used your privilege for good? Was it back in July when that’s what was “in” and everyone else was doing it?
I challenge a review of character. I challenge those reading and even myself to ask, am I just a trend follower or someone who truly believes every life is important and demands justice for all?
Some may complain that the same conversation is exhausting and tiring. But those people are privileged enough to have these matters only be a conversation in their lives instead of their actual lives.
I expect, within the next few months, that the true identity of the American people will be revealed.
I plead that it is one of empathy, compassion and support for our neighbors.
But I fear that Jean-Baptise Alphonse Karr was correct when he wrote: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
And if history is any marker for what’s to come, then America will never progress. Maybe another meme will take over that puts the skeletons back in the closet, sweeps the dirt back under the rug and puts away the dirty laundry.
Only time can tell what kind of people we truly are, and I hope that we can still look at ourselves in the mirror without disdain.