In My Own Words: Various personal, societal and political thoughts

Alone time

I’ve been rediscovering my inner introvert. I’m not exactly a hermit since most weekdays I communicate with Reporter staff via numerous e-mails over the course of the day. I’ve also had Skype/Zoom conversations with friends. (One of those is not new: the friend lives out of state and, since I received the cochlear implant, we’ve been talking almost weekly.) There are other aspects of my social life missing, though, particularly attendance at synagogue services. I still am not getting on the computer during Shabbat, although I have been on Zoom for Havdalah services on Saturday nights. (That includes Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell telling a story, something I love,)

I do worry about returning to The Reporter office. Since I’ve been listening to more music, I’ve found myself singing when I’m working. I don’t mean in a quiet way, but, rather, my belting the song out at the top of my lungs. That really lifts my mood, but it’s probably just as well that no one can hear me. I have tried to keep staff morale up: I recently declared a Friday Bring-Your-Favorite-Doll/Stuffed-Animal to work day. One person admitted that request made her shake her head, but her philosophy when dealing with me is “if it keeps Rachel sane, then just roll with it.” For those interested, I brought my Abby Cadabby Muppet doll into my home office for the day. That was actually a lot of fun. 

The social divide

My recent reading has led me to discover yet another social divide in our country based on whether to open our economy quickly or slowly. I’m not talking about the “who-cares-if-the-old-folks-die” or the “you-can’t-tell-us-what-to-do” folks, but rather those facing fears it’s difficult for many of us to grasp. Those of us with safety nets (savings to sustain us during hard times or those of us able to work from home) can more easily side with a slow opening since, even if we’ve lost some funds, we’re still doing OK. Others – those who fear permanent loss of their jobs or never being able to get out of debt – have more difficulty envisioning the need to open slowly. Some people don’t understand – or perhaps care – that they are risking their lives and the lives of everyone around them. But others have a different fear: that of being out on the streets – having no money for food or rent – and never being able to get back on their feet. 

This virus also impacts those who have had no choice about working: they continue at their minimum-wage jobs (which are considered essential) because they can’t afford to stop. This includes such businesses as grocery stores, drugstores and restaurants. The staff often don’t have a choice. Even if they wanted to stay home, they know if they don’t go in now, their job won’t be waiting for them when this is over. Some are working in unsafe conditions; others have caught the virus. They make it possible for the rest of us to have our needs met while we stay safe at home.

Watching what they say

During times of crisis, it is especially important for political figures to think before they speak. As I write this, 58,356 Americans have died of the virus (at least, that we know of). That is more American deaths than occurred during the 10-year Vietnam War. While researchers should look at all options in order to treat or cure COVID-19, politicians should not be suggesting possible treatments, nor making jokes about them. I am partly referring to President Donald Trump’s suggestion about injecting a disinfectant into our body, but there are other politicians who are worse: those who have talked about people sacrificing themselves for the economy. 

Many of these people call themselves pro-life in other circumstances, but how can you be pro-life when you are willing to risk people dying? Does that make you pro-life unless it affects the economy? Are you willing to gamble with the lives of another 100-200,000 people? Then there’s Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who is wants to let her city be used as a “control group” for reopening: basically, just open up the city and casinos, and see how many people die. Fortunately, the governor of the state doesn’t agree with her, nor are workers willing to be guinea pigs for her experiment. 

By the way, I don’t actually think President Trump meant for people to take him literally about injecting disinfectants, but, unfortunately, there are people who take him at his word. Some actually called the CDC, medical hotlines or their doctors asking if this was safe. Even worse, President Trump later tried to claim he was joking. Is that really any better: how can you joke about treatments about this disease when so many people are burying and grieving for their dead? People’s lives are nothing to joke about, and our political leaders ought to know that.