Unexpected Opportunities

Hello from my kitchen table,

I am back home and breakfast is in the oven, yet another version of a frittata. That will provide breakfast leftovers for a few days. My drive back yesterday was quiet, isolated, and uneventful – all good things. I took a somewhat circuitous route to get home driving through Virginia, into West Virginia, and up 81 to Enola and then 15/11 back to Bloomsburg. I stopped once for gas and did grab a soda. I got home at dusk, so I accomplished what I had hoped to do. Stay on less populated roads and home by dark. I unloaded the car, brushed my teeth and looked into Anton’s room. I knew that would be difficult, but I made it through after a good cry. His room was spotless, his bed made more neatly than he probably ever did, and it looked much like the day he arrived. When I got up this morning all the doors to rooms are open and it seems eerily quiet, but yet his presence is still felt. There are things in the house that will forever be reminders of my one-person Danish invasion. As I noted before, Anton’s presence brought back many remembrances of my time at Dana College, and the Danish culture I first learned to admire there. It’s given me a multitude of reasons to return to Denmark after almost four decades.

As I consider the bigger picture of what is happening, it would be simple to focus on the more malevolent aspects of this pandemic, but is there another more helpful, and maybe even reasonable way to consider our global situation? There are always other ways to imagine all of this, but can we be both optimistic and guarded? Can we be hopeful, and not be Pollyannish or disingenuous? That is the path I hope to take as I imagine the world on the other side of this global crisis. I have argued from the outset that we need to look at this as a human problem, an issue that goes beyond race, geography, socio-economics, religion, or governmental structure. It is a time when we need the most brilliant of our educators, our economists, our medical professionals, or those in logistics to work together creating a strategy and path forward. But it is able more than surviving this lethal virus, it is to prepare together for the next global issue to confront us because it is not a matter of if, but of when. Even this can sound pessimistic, but if we take the time to think, to prepare, to work side by side, which is something sorely lacking nationally in most cases, perhaps what comes out of it is a more compassionate, a more charitable, and a more accommodating country. It seems at times we are more likely to be such a nation when we are working internationally, though I believe the MAGA theme has more than tarnished a reputation of a welcoming and caring nation. Before you think I have no appreciation for taking care of things within our borders, I do, but it seems too often we fail there also. Therefore, it is often too easy to pretend, and our introspection is a failed veil of selfishness at best, and incredible greed at the worst. Again, some examples in the past week of both are plainly apparent.

What are some of the opportunities that I allude to in my title? When we are to be locked down or isolated as much as possible, we seem to not even do that systematically as a country. Last night in speaking with my sandbox friend, she noted how many things in my hometown area are continuing as usual. The lack of forethought is, for me and should be for most, stunning. This is especially the case when the resulting illness and possible mortality seems much more economically consequential than shuttering businesses for a month or so. Again, if I am that small business owner, I realize that statement is more profound. I am sure that some incredible local businesses will close here. That is, it appears, because in spite of the Sharpie signature on the 2.2 Trillion, or the promises of quick relief and support, the tortoise looks like the best rapid movement we have. The arrival of small business loans (SBL), 60 day moratoriums on various loans, and the $1,200.00 checks all got lost in the mail, or did not get mailed at all. So again, I ask the question, where are the opportunities? Speaking with a second former classmate during my drive on Saturday, she noted that there is always pain in a birthing process. She, like the person I noted in a previous blog, has this incredible and profoundly spiritual intuition about the world around her. She too believes we have unparalleled possibilities to work toward a more just, inclusive, and verdant world should we choose the path of compassion first. What if we make some choices to share first and hope that our charity might be reciprocated? What if we use our goodness and bounty for the good of others? It seems somewhat logical that what can happen on an individual basis might actually occur on a local basis, and then a state to state basis and beyond.

I believe in my own heart that is the best and more likely way we might do more than survive this crisis. I am not (seems I am not so many more things than I am) an economist; I do not have an in-depth understanding of global markets, logistics, or trade policy, but our current world, seeming a wee bit cut-throat and dishonest at best, might need to reconsider the less than stellar plan in current use. One of the things I do have some expertise in is rhetorical strategy. How can we persuade people to trust each other to work together? Well, perhaps a logical place to begin is by looking at the contagious nature of Covid-19, and the resulting mortality. As I noted in my last blog, it does not seem to be the most lethal of the recent viruses, but when you take the number of cases and consider the aggregate, 100s of thousands or millions of people dying is quite lethal. Yesterday an Op-Ed posted on ABC news written by Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush offered a sense of stability and hope. If you did not see the article, (Click Here) and it should open in a new window. I believe it is a recipe for hope. I think what is important to consider is the same political question that has plagued us since our nation’s inception. How do we work together as fifty pieces of a national problem? How do we manage the needs of 330,000,000 people when there are fifty arguments being made for whom or what is most important? This is a microcosm of the global issue. We are one country of the 157 who are fighting this currently. We need to work together with organizations like the WHO with our allies and other partners to manage this in a concerted and thoughtful way. We need to understand that allowing people to die (and I do understand allowing is a loaded term) because they are old, less economically able, or because their health care systems are not developed is a long-term recipe (and maybe not as long-term as we think) for extinction. 

We have an opportunity (and I would argue unprecedented need) to work together as never before. We need to reach across state boundaries, our Northern or Southern boundary, across our ocean boundaries and we need to focus on the health and care (in all avenues) of all the world’s people. If we will do that, it is possible that many of the other petty arguments, which often become bigger, might be erased? If we look at the other as such as important as we ourselves, what might we accomplish? I do not believe this is simple idealism at this point, it is about our global survival. It is about not allowing the world to turn into utter chaos. All of the gold in Fort Knox will not save us from this virus. We cannot buy our way out of this. I continue to read as much as I can because I believe we need to ponder, contemplate, and question how the best way to move forward is. This is what I believe we can rightfully expect of our Federal government, but as the President seems to cede authority noting that the Federal government is “reaching the limits of authority to alter the trajectory of the outbreak” (Peoples, Colvin, Miller, ABC News 6 APR 2020), states are left to their own devices. Yet those devices are to battle each other. This is not a strategy. The strategy needed is a strong balance of central authority that puts a workable plan in place and then allows the states the flexibility to manage their own localities. If the President follows his own pattern, which seems to be “delegating significant responsibility to state leaders and the business community, Trump can continue to approach his job as he often has: as a spectator pundit-in-chief, watching events unfold on television with the rest of the nation and weighing in with colorful Twitter commentary” (Ibid.). Again, the President has an opportunity to make a real difference not only nationally, but globally. I would argue by putting others on a level of equal importance and treating them we respect we actually make ourselves greater and more valuable. It is a pretty simple concept. When you do what people need and do it both with care as well as effectiveness, you make their lives better. This is a global possibility also. If we take the lead on this, amazing how much we might help both others and ourselves. It is not about altruism, but rather it is about decency. That is the real opportunity we have. Can we move beyond name calling, beyond blaming, beyond senseless self-promotion and make the world a truly more equitable and kind world? I believe that is the opportunity. I believe it is a necessity because if we do not what happens on the other side might be something most of us are nowhere ready for. I hope we forge ahead with the sense of decency, a sense of justice for all people, and a sense of believing all life has value. That raises another interesting issue, which I will not pursue too greatly, but for a party who argues all life is sacred in a Pro-life ideographic manner, perhaps it is time to make sure it is about all life, everyone’s life, regardless any other identifying marker except they are human. While there are all sorts of issues with some of the people in this video, it seems like an apropos thing to end this blog with, but this time it is about more than Africa.

Thank you as always for reading. 

Michael (one simple life)

Published by thewritingprofessor55

I am a professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and the director of and Professional and Technical Writing minor, a 24 credit certificate for non-degree seeking people, and now a concentration in Professional Writing and Digital Rhetoric. We work closely to move students into a 4+1 Masters Program with Instructional Technology. I love my work and I am content with what life has handed me. I merely try to make a difference for others by what I share, write, or ponder through my words.

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