Like a faucetJeff Kisling, 4/30/2020
Drip, drip, drip.
Lives of all our relations,
Death, death, death.
The sun shining on the trees is so beautiful this morning. I had to try to capture it before the sun moved on. Before I came to sit here, listening for the Spirit.
In contrast to the beauty lit by the sun, I am seeing some darkness. I can not understand how those with political and financial power have come to treat Mother Earth and all my relations as if we have no worth. Are worthless.
Non White people have been treated as having less value ever since White people arrived in the land known as the United States.
Among the things King George of England is accused of in the U.S. Declaration of Independence was fighting by Indian savages. “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”
American Indians were relentless killed and driven from their lands. The buffalo that provided food and leather for clothes and tipis were ruthlessly slaughtered to near extinction. Native peoples have also been victims of cultural genocide. Their children, over 100,000, were forcibly taken from their families and sent to Indian Boarding Schools where they were forced to learn White culture, forced assimilation. There was widespread physical and sexual abuse. When the children who survived returned to their communities, they didn’t fit in. Those traumas were passed from generation to generation, and referred to as “an open wound” in Native communities today.
There is an ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) associated with the “man camps” of men working on pipelines. Those pipelines are built near or on native lands.
Suicide rates are very high for indigenous youth. So many ways native people are made to feel less valuable than White people.
Black people were captured in Africa and brought to this country. If they survived the perilous sea journey, they were sold into slavery. Families were often split apart.
It is said the Three-Fifths Compromise did not mean black people were worth less than White people, but it certainly sounds that way. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, reads:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Fifths_Compromise
You probably notice Indians were not counted at all.
We’re all aware of the history of racial segregation and suppression of civil rights. Inequalities related to education, housing, employment, healthcare and pay. Inequities that continue to this day.
We have been involved in war or military conflict my whole life. Not long before I was born, the United States became the first and only country to use nuclear weapons. Knowing hundreds of thousands of civilians would be killed, or later die of cancer.
I experienced the idea of being expendable myself when, as an eighteen year old, I was forced to decide, as all boys my age were, whether to participate in the Selective Service System.
To this day our soldiers continue to be involved in armed conflict. Many serve more than one tour of duty. So many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, and/or physical wounds.
These conflicts of course also kill civilians. Drone attacks sanitize killings. Innocent bystanders are referred to as “collateral damage.” People know they have no value when they hear the drones buzzing above them.
We are all aware by now of the rape of Mother Earth. Natural resources claimed by those who have no right to do so, as their property, to do with however they like. In ways that maximize profits for them. Careless of the needs of the rest of us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to so many inequities. The breakdown of our healthcare systems. Highlighting who is paying the price. Beyond those who are infected, and the many who are dying, we see who are essential workers. The people who work at poverty levels to keep the rest of us supplied with food. The sanitation workers and first responders. Public transit drivers.
Highlighting our precarious economic system. So many living from paycheck to paycheck. Long lines at food banks.
The outrage of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists (like me) and other healthcare workers who have been forced to work without adequate protection. Who know they are at high risk of contracting the virus, but do so, day after day. Knowing the risk of bringing the virus home to their families. Who work many extra hours in physically uncomfortable protective equipment. Who are cast into positions where they are the only ones present as their patient is dying.
Healthcare workers who made all of these sacrifices. Worked past exhaustion. But did so to try to get over the hump of the spread of the disease.
And then to have politicians who are only driven by corporate greed, relax the restrictions that are the only way to fight the virus. How can the healthcare works not be devastated because they know, there is no doubt, that relaxing those restrictions will lead to another round of infections and death?
There is a limit to what healthcare personnel can take. There have been suicides. We hear healthcare workers say they are going to leave or change their jobs when the crisis is over. Relaxing restrictions guarantees that won’t be anytime soon. There may well be a shortage of healthcare workers for the next inflection of infections.
Yet another group who have been treated as cogs in the machine of corporate profit are Latin peoples. Exploited for years as cheap labor on farms and elsewhere. Immigrants coming to what was supposed to be the land of the free. Subjected to inhumane treatment as they try to gain entry into the U.S. The horrific separation of children from their families. Continuing the pattern of separation of native and black children from their families.
And now the government is making it mandatory that people working in virus hot spots such as meat processing plants, continue to work. Knowing so many of their co-workers are infected. Knowing there is very little testing being done, so they can’t be safe at work.
People are incarcerated in prisons, with no way to maintain social distancing. Where huge numbers of prisoners and staff are infected. And yet we leave them there, as if they have little value.
What to do? Trying to influence politicians seems impossible.
Social distancing means there can’t be public protests and rallies.
I was on an organizing call last night for the beginning of an era of general strikes, the first one being tomorrow. I plan to write more about that soon.
The #GeneralStrike has five demands:
(1) Protection from Covid-19
(2) Safe Housing.
(3) Living Wages.
(4) Medicare for All.
(5) Equal Education.
“Where my warriors at? And so I feel like what has been said many times tonight and I appreciate the sentiment that we can say this now in this time and this generation is that prayer is the most G thing you can do, homey. And I can say that for my life, in the things that have happened in my life, the anger, for the pain, for the hate, that I’ve carried, that forgiveness, and therefore remembering to pray for those that oppressed us, is the most powerful testament to mankind.”Nahko Bear