2021 Reflections

A year ago I remember hoping for things to transition back to normal-whatever that means. Right now I’m simply looking forward to moving on and coming out better on the other end of things when this pandemic era of living is finally done. There will be no return to normal. None of us will exit this thing untouched. We’ve all been changed by it, and to say otherwise is to deny the reality of a trauma we’ve all shared.

But the world is sick, and I’m not just referencing COVID. I’m certainly not making light of the 800,000 plus Americans who have lost their lives to this pandemic. It’s tragic and certainly a grief we all share. Beyond the obvious illness of the COVID virus, there’s more disease. Hearts and minds are not well. Rugged individualism has perpetuated a new line of behavior that permeates our lives, our schools, and our legislatures. Book banning, infighting over masks, and disagreements about what being American has meant and should mean continue to cause strict division. Common ground is scarce. Differences of opinions, beliefs, and perspectives about who is responsible for what, and most shockingly, what is truth and who gets to tell it, suffocate the timelines, social media feeds, and conversations at American dinner tables, and show up at public comment opportunities of all kind.

A debate usually consists of two concepts, both which usually represent opposites, but possible and realistic perspectives. Weighing the pros and cons of both concepts, using experiences to connect one’s position to the lives of those listening, and understanding how our experiences influence the values we propose to hold dear all makes sense. Yet, what seems to be under debate right now is whether or not America will own its truth-all of it, the good, the bad, and the painfully ugly.

As a child, I remember my Momma distinctly using two phrases that seem to be applicable to these times we are living in right now: 1. “A lie don’t care who tell it,” and 2. “An excuse is whatever you want it to be.” It took me years to fully understand the meaning of these colloquialisms, but I feel as if they are playing out right before my very eyes right now. The people are divided on every issue you can think of-from vaccinations to voting rights. Some of the same battles of the past that the people already decided are back in the debate circle-Roe v. Wade, voting rights, etc. It’s absolutely perplexing to me, and it echoes that nothing is final-not even justice. Freedom is an eternal battle that must be fought continuously in order to ensure that is available and accessible for all. The thought of that alone exhausts me, but there is no time for fatigue.

Over the last year and a half, and throughout this era where everything seems politicized-even when it’s clearly not a matter of politics, I recognize a few things in ways I did not before. The mind is fragile. Group think is powerful. The battle between good and evil is a real thing, not just a thematic concept in the books we read. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves going through the motions of life without thinking about how we are being influenced, and more importantly, how what we do or fail to do, and what we say or lack the courage to say, impacts the lives of others.

Even with all of this heaviness, I have no desire to go back to the pre-pandemic world. Clearly we need to do something different, especially if we want healing. Healing of all kinds-physical, mental, spiritual, societal healing that America so desperately needs. Healing never comes from ignoring the wound, neglecting the sore, or pretending it doesn’t exist. Doing any of those things creates a breeding ground for infection.

Healing comes from dealing with the root issue, facing it head on, with courage, honesty, and love. Momma says if you don’t get to the root of a problem it’s definitely coming back. I recognize I have an incredibly tiny part in the grand scheme of things, I’m taking my part seriously, because in my little corner of the globe I only want to live in a space where love and truth are honored and not debated, because those are the only absolutes in this crazy world.

Y’all be easy,

Latoya

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