“Earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!
19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
(Read the rest of the chapter, here.)
Just like Job’s friends, collectively we have made miserable comforters. Job says “God has turned me over to evil men and thrown me to the clutches of the wicked.” He points out the visceral signs of his unjust punishment: “my face is red with weeping, deep shadows ring my eyes, yet my hands have been free of violence, and my prayer pure.” Even so, his friends stand idly by, offering false piety and thinly veiled scorn instead of truly loving help. Couldn’t Job’s words be used to condemn us, in the broadest sense of the word, in our apathy towards our fellow man?
I’ve been paying more attention to the news as the corona virus continues to spread, and as I learn to use Twitter better (it’s not my favorite social media but I feel it necessary for the blog…Instagram is my natural habitat). This renewed awareness reminded me of all the unanswered cries that are still being called out, and I’m ashamed of how little I’ve cared to know.
The rapid spread of the corona virus is a big deal, I’m not trying to make light of it. But please, do not panic, and do not put your compassion on hold. A few stats from Johns Hopkins to put things in perspective: As of February 26, 2020, there have been 81,322 cases reported world-wide, with 2,770 deaths (none of which have yet occurred in the US). The flu, on the other hand, a virus mutation we see pop up every year that hasn’t caused global panic since World War I, has an estimated one billion cases worldwide per year, with up to 646,000 deaths annually, worldwide. They are sobering statistics, and I truly debated sharing them because it may do more to fan the flames of fear than to calm them. My hope is that it will remind you, my reader, that we function in a world full of contractible, deadly viruses already. It is a fact of life that demands more compassion from us, not less-just make sure to wash your hands.
Don’t let the corona virus blind you to the ongoing injustices in the world. A quick run-down of the stories I’ve been following. And again, there are a lot more that we could get into, but this is what I’ve been able to read about in between the hustle and bustle of daily life with two kids and a farm:
- The latest humanitarian crisis in Syria – there is a lot of biased information out there. Just a simple search on the subject returns not only articles from the BBC, which I generally trust, but also front-page hits from Russian outfits like Sputnik and RT, which I don’t trust as much. Given our own president’s lukewarm (at best) interest in Syria, it’s not a topic that gets the attention appropriate to the magnitude of the crisis. As best as I can gather, almost one million people have been recently displaced by fighting in the northern province of Idlib. It is winter, and people are having to spend nights in below-freezing temperatures without food or shelter. Children are dying from cold, others are so traumatized they’ve stopped speaking. Pregnant mothers are under enough stress to cause premature births and miscarriages.
- The ongoing border crisis, especially as it pertains to children – Technically, the Trump administration ended its policy of separating families at the border in June 2018. But over 1,000 families have still been separated since that time, including the heartbreaking case of the parents who were deported, after being promised as part of their deportation deal to be reunited with their four-month-old son, without him.
- Wet’suwet’en blockades in Canada – In short, the Wet’suwet’en have been protesting Canada and oil companies seizing unceded lands for pipeline projects. Part of this protest has taken the form of rail blockades, which are seriously impacting the economic realities of Canada. It is hard to get truly impartial news on this issue, as well. It’s receiving very little main-stream media coverage from outside Canada and most Canadian news sources are skewed to favor the Canadian government and Canadian business interests. I support the Wet’suwet’en people’s right to defend their territory because it is the sovereign right of any country or people to do so when threatened with invasion. I further support it because they are doing important ecological work in protecting fragile ecosystems from the damages that come with pipelines, including leaks and spills, groundwater contamination, and habitat disturbance. The IG account of @smogelgem provides a real-time account of what is actually happening, with opportunities to support the protesters whether you live near or far.
We all get compassion fatigue. We all need to take care of ourselves – you can’t pour from an empty cup, etc etc. But we can also all try better. Do a little more. Especially at a time when the world is facing a global pandemic. You see, I’m worried that this corona outbreak is going to make people become insular, less willing to reach out and help those in need and more likely to protect their own interests. This is not the time to be callous.
I try very hard not to ask you to do more than I do, so let me list for you the mini-activisms I did while writing this blogpost. Actually, before I do, I want to remind you that I do not list this stuff to brag. I just want to show that you really can do it, too, even if I have to guilt you into it. I currently have a cold, as does my oldest. I’m trying to stay on top of laundry and make dinner every night and get insurance for our new commercial kitchen and deal with the leak in my freezer trailer, but I still made time to make a little effort. If I can do this, then so can you:
I made a small donation to the White Helmets, a boots-on-the-ground organization in Syria dedicated to helping innocent civilians. I also called my representatives, saying that I think more needs to be done to support Syrian civilians and the work of the White Helmets. I did my research, and read the stories coming not only out of Syria but from the border, and from Canada. More than anything, I’m talking about it. Again, I say this not to brag, but to show you what a hassled mom with limited bandwidth can manage. I may not be able to be out there marching in protests, pulling people from bombed rubble, or providing pro-bono legal council, but I can support those who are. So now I ask you, can you make a small donation to the White Helmets (the IRC is another good one)? Can you share a #wetsuwetenstrong post on Instagram? Can you call your representatives and tell them that children being held in detention centers at the border is unacceptable? Together, we can do our part to make sure the cries of the downtrodden are never laid to rest, but answered.
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