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We Are Them

“We were not prepared for this.”

--My undesired mantra these past, long weeks.

Not our government, infrastructure, businesses, hospitals, schools, families, communities, minds, hearts or souls.

How could we be? Like Monty Python says, “no one expects the Corona virus.” Or something like that.

Still, there are those that should’ve and could still be doing much more with needed efficacy, compassion and grace. My anger burns, finding a momentary respite in blame, bypassing strangling fear and grief.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought/vented: if asshat #1-45 would have done X, Y, Z, we wouldn’t be in such a mess. It’s true, asshats make it easy on the daily, with staggering lack of empathy, appropriate action and foresight.

If they could only get it right.

I’m tethered by they/them. More than usual. At the pandemic’s early phase I chattered “they say, they think, they’re telling us,” like a delusional parrot. Not for the first time, struck by my need for blind faith in the they/those to whom I abdicate power and funnel unfettered belief. I waited on them to cancel a concert, doctor appointment, school or a business function, them for comfort or to say our world would burn.

Then there are those people; spring breakers in YOLO/FOMO/body-shot prime, Angel Soft wrestlers, narcissists without the excuse of youth reopening schools/churches demanding God spare their flock alone, and en masse, 6” social distancers. Those sending death threats (instead of thanks) to experts working tirelessly for our benefit. And of course, those still hell-bent on prioritizing politics over people.

In short, my self-righteous meter is off the charts. Usually this serves as a check engine light, but if I’m honest, it’s felt good to succumb.

The other day, I walked my neighborhood (blessedly alone for the first time in weeks.) I saw friends and waved from a “safe” distance, with every step thinking, “I hope they don’t get me sick. Then the kids will get sick, then Matt, then mom, then, then, then, then.”

Breath.

The thought shimmied in like a snake; I could be the deliverer of danger, not just the recipient. I am the they to everyone else.

I know. Duh. Yet this is what’s being missed in our midst.

Each of us makes ourselves the main character in our own story – billions of closed-loop systems. It’s not entirely our fault. It’s science-y. We are hard-wired to survive; a program including invincible/infallible chips clearly in need of upgrade.

What we’re seeing in the failure and flailing is a collective ego-overheat, our lazy, flawed constructs melting like the Wicked Witch of the West in a tsunami. Malevolent molecules are shattering our illusion of control, forcing a mirror to what always dwelled within.

We are them. And they are we.

This is scary (and grammatically questionable).

And this is good.

Scary: Humans weren’t excelling at we before all of this.

Good: There is hope. Look around. It’s in your home, your heart, your world. If the entire cast of Hamilton can serenade a 9-year-old with Jack Ryan and Mary Poppins, hope abounds.

Scary: There are no soothsayers.

Good: We can sift the madness and bullshit ourselves, unearthing touchstones and truths.

Scary: We’re failing at what feels like everything. All at once.

Good: We’re rising. And in the rising, grace.

Scary: We’re experiencing concurrent, compound trauma.

Good: Concurrent, compound healing is in the works, if we allow.

Scary: Our egos are trying to claw back control, centering us to our own problems, erasing the plight of others.

Good: Once we see the Matrix, we can’t go back.

Scary: Survival is at stake.

Good: We are surviving.

Scary: Profound loss/grief.

There is no good here.

Scary: What they do affects us, and we impact them.

Good: This is the Truth with a capital T. For now and ever shall be.

Scary: We forgot.

Good: We remember.

Artwork: "Family Tree" by Jared Dunten