What a pivotal moment this is. Think about it.
Less than a decade after the largest economic collapse in 80 years exposed the failures of late-stage capitalism, the world’s biggest superpower elected a rambling, rabble-rousing, self-important, authoritarian conman clown by negative-3 million votes. Then, just as the king-of-tweets and lord-of-lies finally faced his obligatory impeachment, and was protected by a corrupt party establishment, the world was assailed by the worst pandemic in a century. Largely because of the failures of this inane and narcissistic, power-hungry conman the United States quickly became the world leader in total cases and total deaths. By a wide margin.
All the while, of course, the planet was recording record-high temperatures as climate change raged nearly unnoticed.
Then, as social distancing measures stemmed the overwhelming surge of pandemic outbreaks – and the US president faced imminent ousting while his poll numbers plummet – the time inexplicably seemed right for a series of new attacks by racist whites on people of color. Perhaps it was outrage at having been proven wrong about their “great leader,” the failing corrupt conman clown. Maybe those dastardly bigots simply figured that chasing down black men in a park and shooting them, or holding them to the ground with a knee as they die in broad daylight, would go unnoticed during a plague. Maybe they were frustrated at being made to stay home. Maybe it’s the heat.
Regardless, it did not go unnoticed. It did not fly under the radar. It pissed people off. People who were unequally stricken by the plague because of the unequal nature of their economic circumstances took to the streets. Oh, we were warned they would. A couple of years before, for one example, a heroic African American man risked millions and took a knee before a flag during an anthem on public TV in protest of this very economic injustice, this very brutality. For his bravery he was ousted from the game he loved and vilified by the followers of the conman clown. A generation or two before a peaceful preacher with a big dream and a large following warned us that things were unsettled and we gunned him down.
“Riot is the language of the unheard,” the preacher said.
Now Americans ask the question, “why?” Why has violence erupted. Why couldn’t they just have (another) peaceful protest about this stuff so we can tell them (again), “Now is not the time. Shut up and sit down unless the anthem is on then stand up for a minute then sit your ass back down. Now is not the time.”
Now is not the time to end police brutality. Now is not the time to end social injustice. Now is not the time to end economic inequality. Now is not the time to fight climate change.
Now is never the time.
It wasn’t the time to overthrow British rule in 1776.
It wasn’t the time to end slavery in 1865.
It wasn’t the time for women’s suffrage in 1920.
It wasn’t the time for child labor laws in 1938.
It wasn’t the time for civil rights in 1964.
It is never the time.
It is always the time.
The time is now to listen. The time for empathy is now. This is the time for change, and it can come with peace and understanding or it can come through pain and fire. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” John F Kennedy said.
For so many, America has never lived up to its promise. For so many, it has brought only blood and tears. We live today in perhaps our time of greatest economic inequality. The top 1% will soon own more wealth than the entire middle class combined. In the meantime, 40 million Americans live in poverty. 14 million households are experiencing food insecurity. Entire communities have unsafe drinking water. Those folks who have taken to the streets represent not only those affected by racial injustice, but also those most affected by our nation’s financial inequities. Their frustrations have peaked, but they represent our frustrations, too.
It should not have come to this.
But it did.
Now was the time.
There are lessons to be learned from moments like this. Just as Covid-19 taught us here in America how terrible our healthcare and preparedness systems are, this uprising can teach us how broken are our priorities. Politicians play tug-of-war with our trillions as millions suffer below. Change must come. To our financial institutions, to our political institutions, to our healthcare, and media, and legal institutions. To our constitution.
This isn’t just about George Floyd. This is about America, and how America has failed it’s preamble again. It has ignored the people. Ignored justice. Denied tranquility. Forgot the common welfare. Became the most imperfect union.
We have to stop servicing the greed and start servicing the people.
For that, it is far past time.