Good morning, Monday. I haven't written in a long time, and the world looked a lot different than it does now or the way it looks from my last part. Today, New York enters Phase Two of la grande rentrée and stores, outdoor dining, and hair salons can open up again. Lord help us all.
For me, many voices needed to be heard, and I was quiet so I could process it all. There was a ton of posts, updates, and otherwise all over social media to support the protestors, and to commemorate the senseless death of George Floyd and countless others. Once upon a time in America...I hope one day we can talk about this time as a reckoning- when we confronted the virus of COVID-19 and the enduring virus of racism. At some point, I hope we can all heal together. Together being the operative word.
So I've been struggling to write about all the things I typically write about because it was not the time for my voice. I wanted to make room for others to talk, and I wanted to make room in my mind to process what was happening. And then came the fireworks.
True story and I think I've told you this before- I don't like fireworks. At all.
As a child, I had a raging phobia of loud noises, particularly fireworks and anything loud and boom-like. In case you don't live in a big city, maybe you're not experiencing the nightly sonic booms that we are having in places like Philly and New York. In my neighborhood, summer fireworks are a bit of a thing, but not on this scale. It's not going off like crazy in my nabe, but the surrounding areas are suffering anxiety with four straight weeks of BOOM after BOOM from about 10-2 am each evening. Dogs are freaking. Children are crying. People set off professional-grade fireworks every night for hours on end, and it's jarring, scary, and very unsettling, particularly because the city is already on edge. (Not to mention doing this is such close proximity to buildings, cars, and people is beyond dangerous).
Many people are complaining, and the fabulous fireworks debacle of 2020 is making the rounds of newspapers like the New York Times, blogs, and nightly news shows. The police are totally MIA when it comes to this illegal activity, and many are accusing them of planting these fireworks in neighborhoods themselves. It seems that besides the police, the only person not seeming to give a crap about it all is our mayor, but that's another story.
Anyway, I'm on Nextdoor (a local app for community postings) in my neighborhood and posted about fireworks about a week ago, and people came for me.
First, I was a "gentrifier," and how long have I lived in Brooklyn during the summer?
Second, I was showing my white privilege by complaining about this. And how lucky I was to have this as my only complaint as people were fighting for their lives every day.
Third, as previously mentioned, maybe it was the cops themselves setting them off to cause chaos and confusion.
I, in no way, implied that my annoyance at fireworks is comparable to concerns for human life and police brutality. I just said they are very jarring and scary and add to the air's sense of tension. And as more and more people came to my defense (thank you, people of Brooklyn), I realized that the nightly explosives were part of this whole reckoning. That we all have to face our fears and the things that make us uncomfortable. Maybe it's all about staying awake. Because nobody can sleep with these explosions all night. Or perhaps it's just that people need to calm the heck down and understand that to judge someone you have never met is pretty horrible and counter-productive. On the subject of conspiracy theories, no comment.
And as the other crisis of Corona continues to taunt us, I heard a story on the radio that gave me pause. An epidemiologist was talking about the decrease in cases in countries like Italy and France because countries like those in Europe are socially minded (and no, not just socialist). They are societies that believe in the public good. And then, there's us.
We believe in individualism. At every cost. Because protecting our freedom is the number one thing we all are supposed to believe in the most in this country, right? But what if your individualism was making everybody sick? What if your endless sonic booms are making others uncomfortable, and not in the right way?
I would love to see this country move towards something else. Because we can't go back to normal, and we shouldn't. I would argue that everything before COVID-19 was anything but ordinary. We were spinning out of control. Imagine a country where you can celebrate your individuality while being mindful and compassionate when it comes to the health and well being of others? Call it being civically minded, socially-minded, or just being a good neighbor and citizen of Earth. We have got to start caring about other people. And wear your damn mask, for goodness sake.
Don't be an asshole. Plain and simple. Be considerate of your neighbors and communities and understand that amidst so much hurting and anger, we need some good healing energy too. Now is the time to fight, but it's also a time to acknowledge how deeply wounded we are as a country. This weekend was Father's Day, and I couldn't help but think of my next-door neighbors, who finally took down their Easter decorations yesterday and spent their first Father's Day without their 32-year-old daughter, who lost her life to COVID-19.
You have no idea what people are experiencing- practice compassion, keep fighting for what's right, and work for healing and coming out of this dark period better allies, better friends, and better Americans. Be a fighter AND a lover.
Cause that's what's up this loving Monday in the 718. Yours, in newfound American optimism, and keeping it real. XO