Minister's Post, Sun Aug 30

Our times . . . These are our times.

Some politicians are preferring to speak of the covid-19 pandemic in the past tense. Never blame politicians – they are ever only saying what we voted for them to say. And if sanity has failed to outvote insanity, that’s on all of us – it’s on me, and it’s on you. So there is a portion of us that wants to believe the pandemic is over. Therefore, let us be committed to not believing what we may want to. Let us not choose our beliefs, but believe what reality and our best dispassionate understanding -- which we also do not choose -- dictate and compel. Let us believe what we have to, not what we want to. Let us honor the evidence, however inconvenient, and make meaning of it with an imagination that encompasses multiple perspectives.

In fact, in the US, we saw declines in our death rate in May and June, then it climbed in July, leveled off in August, and is now declining, more slowly than it was in May and June. The US is still seeing a 7-day average of almost 1,000 deaths a day. That is half the death rate of last April, yet almost twice the 7-day average we got briefly down to in early July. One thousand deaths a day! We will reach a total of 190,000 deaths in the next few days.

Every human life this disease takes is a tragedy, wherever the person happens to have lived. Worldwide, the 7-day average of deaths per day from Covid-19 has barely budged for over a month. The disease continues to claim over 5,500 lives a day, as it has since mid-July. We are headed toward total deaths surpassing one million before the end of September.

Last Sunday (Aug 23), Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake. He was unarmed. He was shot in the back – seven times. After George Floyd’s murder 16 weeks ago, we saw an uprising – worldwide. But the police officers weren’t marching. Nothing about those demonstrations changed anything about the assumptions and methods of the average officer on patrol. Policing will change only when the structures and policies change. It will take some time to devise and implement new structures and policies. It will take some time for officers to adjust to different job descriptions, and structures of accountability, or be replaced. When I say it will take time, I am not prescribing what Dr. King called “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” I prescribe, not a tranquilizer, but a stimulant, that, though the night be long, our eyelids grow not heavy, but our eyes stay wide and on the prize. We’ve got to know that we are in this for the long haul. Surely, we did not expect to be allies of justice for one season, and then it would be done? We will keep up the justice work, knowing that more killings will come – that we are far from peace and justice, but not as far as we were.

These are our times. May we give to them, as people of faith, the courage and care that is the best that we have and are.

Yours in the faith we share,

This week's Practice of the Week: Morning Orientation, Evening Orientation

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