The COVID 19 response

As I have sheltered in place like many of you from COVID-19 I have thought a lot about the future.  As a mother I wonder what life will look like for my daughters and other youth  as they ponder their future jobs, relationships, activity. Additionally, I wonder how people will fare emotionally after having been told that they cannot live a life where the very concept of humanity has changed. As social animals we need to touch celebrate and commune.  This virus, or the executive management of this, has separated us from all of those rituals. If we cannot shake hands, we cannot hold hands, we cannot hug, we cannot kiss, and so on and so on…

It is clear that the systemic issues facing us have been laid bare by the disruption of everyone’s daily lives. Before this the blame was laid squarely on the victim.  But we are clear now that these deficiencies are not about that. The digital divide, the falsities about employment, the health access disparities, the education disparity, the housing deficiency, the lack of relevant employment in communities, the shifting demographics, and we could go on.  But the point is that we all now know the cost to our society of the exclusion born from racism over centuries.

As we try to rebuild, it is critical that we address the problems that allowed this to happen in the first place.

The Federalist Papers are arguably the first use of propaganda to sway public opinion by the US government. We now have daily press briefings that masquerade as press conferences as a method of public management. In an effort to support the Constitution the papers described the importance of guidelines for the necessity of the constitution as well as the traits essential to hold executive leadership. In paper #68 Alexander Hamilton outlines the characteristics of ambition, avarice and vanity, as implosive to the office of the President.  These very civilized entreaties never assumed that anyone other than white Christian men would hold this office and proposed that these virtues would be normative of that elite group.  It was never imagined that the voices of the descendants of enslaved Africans, women, believers in a variety of religions, or other types of immigrants would be a part of the conversation. But they are now.

Today the ability to manipulate public response has been exacerbated by political response fueled by cable television, social media and its ability to spread messages in real time and with spin. The propaganda which surrounds the abilities of others to adhere to the standards set out by the founders is so ingrained in our culture because it is a point of demarcation between them and the “others”. This divisiveness is tearing us apart. But the very foundation upon which these assumptions were made is the fact that all men’s motives are not created equally chaste. In fact, as we know the constitution was written to suggest that there is a very great possibility that some White Christian men might veer from the proscribed path and do things that would be harmful to the culture as a whole and risk the republic because of their own internal flaws.

Without a doubt this has to stop and for reasons that are for the overall benefit.  If you wonder why I call out white male Christian supremacy, it is not because I am attempting to demonize, but because those of us that are limited to sit on the sidelines proscribed by this barrier recognize the unreal opportunity cost of lost talent. This ingrained notion of otherness in a time of rampant change creates a loss of the creativity that was supposed to be the core of this democracy. When the threat became one which was to the ruling class it has also become clear that this model was not sustainable. And now it is time for these men to stand up and fight for the republic. Congress does not have time under these circumstances to wait until November to maybe make a change that is compromised by interference.

Adding to this mix, as the nation grew up, the differences in its constituents became broadly associated with the others and their inability to adhere to a standard of proscribed civility. No matter how hard they tried, the outsiders, especially those of different skin color or faith, were set up to fail to assimilate to the culture and were rejected.  They have been relegated to “essential” jobs which put them at risk financially and now physically.  Ironically as the quest to maintain control has progressed and the concept of the collective has declined, otherwise called bigotry, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, you name it, exclusion for many was key to keeping the power and wealth in the hands of the few.  The basis on which the standards were framed are being exposed, they were not for everyone, nor were they supposed to be.  The intent was never for a diverse collective but a homogenous one where power could be accumulated and consolidated. Thus now we are headed back to a place where, at the expense of the poor, the rich will be well rewarded. Regardless of sometimes crass obtuse ignorance, all those in power will get on board because despite Christian values, personal gain is more important than the greater good.

Shari E. Runner
President & CEO
The Humanity Institute

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