The last two months have been full of a different type of noise then we are used to. Instead of crowded bars, and horns in traffic and walking on Michigan Ave, instead of catching the train to lunch or listening to the music in the gym floor, the noise that has been generated is the way this quarantine has polarized our lives and how we live them. It is noise that is accentuating stark realities, grossly incompetent social structures, and noise that highlights our own deficiencies as a people.
I’ve always known racism exists. I was fortunate to be exposed to diversity early on, and attend a school with an incredible population from a young age and I would hear stories from my classmates on being treated differently. Often it was aggressive questioning from a police officer, or hearing an off color remark during gym class. It was never this real and present inhumane danger that black people have faced for years, that now flash on our Instagram pages and get documented by every cell phone camera. I opened my windows to enjoy the noise of the rain today, and the air felt different on the heels of two wildly mind boggling events that occurred this week, injustices that both Christian Cooper and George Floyd experienced, out in the open! In the streets, in public, with witnesses!! I cannot even begin to understand the way the minds of some people operate, and frankly I don’t want too. Why are people so disgusting??
This flagrant disregard for life is happening on a different scale all over America. The divide between the people who are taking Covid-19 seriously and those that aren’t. Do I like wearing a mask in public? Hell no. Do I like staying isolated and not seeing family, friends, people in general? Do I like walking into a patient’s room feeling anxious about being in a trapped space with them, not knowing how serious they are isolating, and what they are bringing into the room? Or coming home exhausted after a 30-hour day and having to strip, take a hot shower, wash my hair, Lysol everything I have touched and then maybe think about food or sleep? Of course not. But, I understand why these things are important. I understand why I am not going to congregate in the street just because it’s a nice day out. I understand this is a global pandemic—read that again and let the weight of those words sink in, even though we are all tired of hearing these words – I understand this is a global pandemic where people are dying. People are suffering. The guidance about this disease isn’t clear, because it. Isn’t. Clear. And yet the news is full of naysayers. Facebook is full of people complaining, and making this into a political rant about “rights” and “justice”. It is hard to comprehend, especially because as a physician, I don’t have rights, do I? I have to walk into the lion’s den and treat you – even if you caught Covid-19 because swimming in a pool in the Ozarks was more important than staying safe. And the next patient that walks into that exam room, what about her rights? Now she has become a victim of your crime. It’s embarrassing to watch this country and its antics become a laughing stock of the rest of the world.
Some people will remember this quarantine as a time they lost their freedom, some will mourn the death of a loved one. Some will remember the loss of their income or jobs. I will remember this as a time that I truly started questioning the inherent good in people. I used to be so proud to live in this country. I would stand up and sing the national anthem at every sporting event. I would get emotional thinking of the opportunity afforded to me, despite the color of my skin. My parents are immigrants. They worked hard to create a better life for me. They came to America to have a better life. Now this land, that used to be your land, and my land, is a land of entitlement, racism, discord and dysfunction.
I wish life could go back to normal.
On the other hand, it’s too damn loud outside.