I miss traveling, teaching & treating or training people face to face. But I can wait. I have a mission to help people be free from disabling pain. But, there are more important ideals. Like justice. Equal justice for all. If we aren’t all asking ourselves fundamental questions about fairness in our courts. Fairness in our policing. Fairness in our housing. Fairness in our jobs. Then what is the purpose of life?
We can reflect on why injustice exists. How did it evolve? European nations initiated the slave trade pre-Renaissance in West Africa. Our Declaration of Rights tabled the issue of inalienable rights FOR ALL in order to create the Union of the 13 Colonies. Read Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation to learn about Jefferson & Madison’s deeply regretted compromise w/ the Southern states.
Slavery wasn’t re-visited in 1800 – as hoped for – but instead took until Lincoln & the bloody Civil War to be ended. Watch the just released Grant 3 part series on the History Channel for a tragic & riveting account of the bloodshed about our National struggle over slavery. The images & historical details will sear you. That U.S. Grant won the Civil War, but lost the peace of Reconstruction taught me a lot about how deeply imbedded in our institutions the Ku Klux Clan, segregation & Jim Crow laws were.
I’ve visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. An extraordinary revelation at the Lorraine Motel where Dr King was assassinated. On their website is this:
“We stand in solidarity with those who fight for justice and anti-racism. Our Museum is a monument to what can be achieved with persistence, tenacity, determination and courage. We represent the last stop on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s crusade for justice, equality and equity. We will never forget.”
If we can ask ourselves what can we learn from a tragedy like has befallen George Floyd in Minneapolis & how it can bring us together then we can find meaning & purpose. When Dr. King died & Robert Kennedy spoke in Indianapolis — even bearing the news to many who had not yet heard — his improvised speech can’t help but buoy us today.
“Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.”
One of the things which I didn’t know about, but only learned this past week is about redlining where laws are put in place to segregate blacks from whites. This epitomizes the institutional racism which I was ignorant of. Minneapolis, home to great black athletes like Kirby Puckett & Rod Carew, has always hidden this past.
From Time Magazine, George Floyd’s Death and the Long History of Racism in Minneapolis:
“Minneapolis wasn’t particularly segregated when racial covenants were first introduced in 1910; they were preemptively put into place before black people lived in Minneapolis in large numbers,” Delegard says. “You have 2,700 African Americans living in the city in 1910 and [then] 30,000 racial covenants blanketing the city to make sure all this land could never be occupied by people who aren’t white. After they had been in place for 30 years, the city became highly segregated and people who weren’t white were sorted into just a handful of very, very small neighborhoods.”
Finally, if we look at New Orleans we can glean how racially divided our country is. Who is suffering more from Covid-19? African-Americans by far! This is due to what is called the Social Determinants of Health. Hypertension, Diabetes & Obesity affect low income people more than high income people. We can say they are related to lifestyle choices, but that reflects ignorance of the influence of green spaces, bike paths, “no car zones”, low income housing near places of employment so you can walk to work, public safety & crime, availability of group fitness, etc. These are social determinants influenced by public policy.
From The Wall Street Journal, Coronavirus Devastates Black New Orleans: ‘This Is Bigger Than Katrina’:
“As with Katrina, the burden is falling disproportionately on black Louisianians.
Black residents make up 32% of the state’s population but 55% of its deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The numbers are similar in New York, Chicago and across the country.
Economists and civic leaders are warning that the deaths are only the start of what could be a devastating setback to black communities in America. Black workers are losing jobs at elevated rates and are less prepared for the shock. Many black-owned small businesses have been unable to access a government-supported loan program meant to keep them afloat.”
There is so much to learn so we can better understand each other & why we are here. Let’s learn about each other & especially about ourselves. Isn’t that the purpose of life? As the Ancient Greeks said “Man Know Thyself”. Let’s all use the Covid-19 crisis and George Floyd’s death to reflect on ourselves. This quiet reflection may reveal where & how we can grow.