Do you remember?
For people from my generation, the question might be, “Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m.? That date evokes vivid memories that spring forth in living color. I was in junior high school, and our concert band was participating in a regional music festival involving dozens of schools in Lake County, IL. The clarinet section was rehearsing for the big concert to take place later that evening. When the announcement came over the loudspeaker, we sat stunned in a state of disbelief.
Where were you when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968? When I heard the news, I was visiting with my sister during her college spring break. We ventured onto Michigan Avenue in Chicago that afternoon just to see what was happening. We cringed in disbelief as angry people threw trash cans through shop windows in the South Loop. Later on the news, we saw buildings and businesses on the West Side blazing out of control. The crowd chanted, “Burn it down!”
What about “9/11” when the Twin Towers came crashing down in 2001? I was teaching at the university that day. Before class, I entered the office to retrieve my mail. People huddled around the TV as they watched in horror. The networks played the scene over and over again. Airplanes crashed into the buildings, and smoke billowed from wounds gashed into the majestic skyscrapers.
One day, your children may ask, “Where were you during the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020?” What will you tell them about this historic event? What did you see? How did you feel? What messages did your soul whisper to you as the earth struggled to arrive at a “new normal”?
I suspect that various interpretations of the incident will emerge. Various voices will narrate the history of this incredible period in our lives. Will your voice be among them? What will be your version of the story?
Don’t miss this opportunity to journal your journey. Write it down so that others will know what you went through in 2020. And, when the time is right, consider publishing your story to share with future generations. Just let us know when you’re ready.
By Lorrie C. Reed, Ph.D.
It is my fervent prayer that something will be found soon to control COVID-19 and stem the spread of the current pandemic. Most of us will be at ease, no doubt, after the pandemic has subsided. Unfortunately, some groups will remain vulnerable to other tenacious killers that continue to show themselves strong in our communities of color.
The persistent killer I’m talking about disproportionately compromises the lives of millions of the poorest members of our society each year. This killer shows up in the form of a complex consisting of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and related maladies that shorten the lives and diminish the well-being of Black and Brown populations.
Such diseases proliferate because of discrimination against individuals based on race or gender. This includes the restriction of opportunities for employment, living conditions, nutrition, healthcare, and other manifestations of systemic racism. If it remains unchecked, the disease can lead to death.
Finding a cure for such racism has been an ongoing battle involving those who value fairness, compassion, and justice for all people. Perhaps justice makers should begin to tackle this ubiquitous presence in the same way public agencies have addressed the recently pernicious virus – one person at a time, one policy at a time, and one practice at a time until the malady known as systemic racism is wiped off the planet for good.
When our society decides finally to become aggressive in this fight, the well-being of affected people will rise, and we will all be able to go outside once again without wearing our social masks for protection.
I went to retrieve my mail the other day. It contained the usual junk—pre-approval notices for credit cards, information about supplemental healthcare insurance, and all manner of appeals to separate me from my hard earned money. Most of it was bulk mail. I was very close to tossing the whole pile into the trash when I spotted it.
The squarish envelope had my mailing address written neatly in the center space. A colorful return address label adorned the upper left corner. In the upper right, was a real “1st class” stamp. On the inside, there was a notecard. The message, written in beautifully rounded cursive, expressed well wishes and hopes for my speedy recovery. This sentiment from friends made me smile and feel very special.
I still have that note. It occupies a place of honor on my desk where I can look at it from time to time. In this age of electronic communication and junk mail, that simple hand-written note stood out. It told me that I was important and worthy of special attention. It really did uplift my spirits and make me feel better that day.
Let’s bring back the fine art of note writing. Boxed notecards make a perfect holiday gift!