Through the Grapevine

We argue about rights a lot in this country. Guns and how you display or carry them, Equity/women’s rights, the right to life, voting, States and racial equity are but a few that come to mind. But now, the right to have healthcare and telecare are front and center. Truthfully people have been shouting about this for years. They’ve been ignored, it is now smack dab in their faces and they cannot. The debate, not so civilized, characterizes the way people interpret the constitution and the rights it affords them to live a free life, without fear, in our country. Truth is that rights are rarely associated with responsibility though. There is a persistent undertone in these discussions that some people are allowed to live and do whatever they want and others simply are not. There are those who feel like they are covered by the de facto “rule” of law. There are those who feel they deserve their rights and others are built to live within the collateral damage and whims of those people.  

Two images. First one, the Black Panthers standing on the steps of the California Capital with loaded guns visible. Ronald Regan had approved open carry in 1966, the protest was in 1967. After this was the first and only time the NRA worked to limit possession of guns. The Mulford Act, was repealed in 1967, or soon thereafter. No more open carry in California for a very long time! The second image, protesters standing with loaded guns visible, against social isolation. They rush the capitol with long guns and other types out. All were white. No one batted an eye and for sure no one made any attempts to change gun laws. Both groups were trying to exercise their legal rights and to put an emphasis on their point by openly carrying a gun. The joke goes that if African Americans all went out and bought a bunch of guns and carried them to a rally in 2020, Congress would move quickly to change the laws about ownership, not just the right to carry openly. It’s no joke, that’s exactly what happened. 

What’s the difference? Amendments have been made to correct and include the total population, women, all varieties of religions and of course, Black people. But they have been challenged and chipped away at since their inception back to the pre amendment place. Then the question becomes what gives you the right to scare the hell out of me, threaten my life and freedom or limit my ability to succeed solely based on your prefabricated notions of who I am as a person living within your perceived rights? 

These rights are only dragged out when they can be interpreted or used to enforce the limitations of learned hatred. Taught prejudices are simply greed, and frankly that’s what makes many so damn angry. I think it’s that you have not achieved what could be achieved and will not achieve what could have been even with biased rules that excluded people from the mainstream. And yet minority and marginalized communities still exist and live within this realm. The notion of American superiority is being laid bare for what it is and for all to see. And it’s clear that its meant for the some and not the many. And when you have a man on center stage so completely incompetent, obviously out his league, built by this system, willing to say anything and contradicting himself at will. The fallacy of the great American narrative built solely on economic and not people power it loses even more credibility. 

The lesson is that we rely on essential workers to run this economy and we balk at paying them a fair wage. “Essential Workers” begins to sound like something else. We like to pretend they just aren’t there. They are the ones who risked their lives and showed their grit to help the collective survive. They knew it and know it and now everyone does. Treating everyone with value and with love is at the foundation of every religion, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever the belief system. Be they Black or brown or a combination or simply White. That is the real deal about reopening churches, so people can get their spiritual reboot, refill, grounding that’s the real “opening” of churches to prove a political point is not. We’ve all heard of CME Christians, Trump can’t even claim that. Oddly enough he spent Mother’s Day at Camp David. Women, amongst others just aren’t that important to him. But he wasted no time in looking “Presidential” and manly trying to mandate that Governors require parishes to open. Political much? He’ll be golfing while people are going to church to prove the love of their god risking their lives. All White Republican Senators just said they found out what the life experience of African Americans is like thanks to the courtesy of one Black Senator who was appointed and then elected.

Outdated thinking, going back to the old normal just isn’t a realistic goal. Solving these many problems without taking a look at the overall picture isn’t making America great, it’s denying our hiccups, bumps, transgressions and laissez faire; resting on our laurels, as it were. Transportation, energy, food service are all areas where we could use an original thought. While we work through cures and prevention, it’s time to get all people involved in thinking about how we educate and work using the rights afforded us all. Be it from home or virtually, models have forever changed and resources need to be reallocated. We are already diverse now we must include. It’s way past time to be comfortable thinking we can just do the same things and get better outcomes. That is losing and I’m pretty sure you all don’t want to lose, right?