Pressure-Cooker

Today is Thursday June 4th. Kia ora katoa.

This morning we had a lovely singing session via zoom. This afternoon one of my sons and his family visited, and a dear friend called from Auckland. So, despite the weather being awful, it was a good day. In the late afternoon we went shopping. It is nice to be able to shop together again now,

In the US, unrest and demonstrations continue. These particular actions have been inspired by the death, in police custody, in handcuffs,of George Floyd. It seems as though a vast area of despair, frustration, desperation, and grief has been tapped, and, like the virus, that is a genie you just can’t put back in the bottle. It seems as though a pressure-cooker has been heated too long with no effective relief, and the resulting explosion still carries on. You can’t say “Don’t come in here!” You can’t limit the effects of this anger and rage, anymore than you can limit the spread of the virus – except by taking steps to address it. As with the virus, some steps may be effective, in some places; the only really effective practice seems to be isolation.

The unrest is still prevalent, despite the fact that George Floyd died on Memorial Day, May 25, over a week ago. Many people are taking part, including some police. There is talk that unsavoury elements have been brought in, and are wreaking havoc, while there are requests to honour MR Floyd’s memory, and not be destructive of property. I don’t think it is wise to devalue this unrest. Others are saying “This feels different”, and comparing this to 1968. While there was certainly a lot of unrest then, this does feel different.

While there has been some burning, and some looting, I don’t think that human life has been attacked by protesters: the burnt buildings were empty before they were set on fire. While there have been calls not to destroy property, there is a sense of desperation, that feels frightening, and one can sympathise with. One hears stories of the many efforts to address issues of systemic racism in America, and yet, for the most part, these have failed. Surely this is enormously frustrating, to most viewers. Ironically, part of the reason that America is a “rich” (i.e. wealthy) country, is that much wealth was built on the backs of slaves. To put it another way, white Americans practiced “looting” on black people, on slaves. Still, African-American people, while not the only poor people in America, tend to do worse than white people in most areas. America is rich indeed in resentment, unfairness, and preoccupation with money, although they claim to be a religious country.

While protesters have been by and large peaceful, the president has spoken of ‘thugs”, the attorney-general of terrorists, and the Defense Secretary of the battle space. He has met peaceful protests with tear gas, rubber bullets (which really can hurt people), violence, and a helicopter in Washington which flew so low that branches broke off trees, signs fell from buildings, and people had to run for their lives. So, this was a violent response.

I don’t know if they realise that videos can be seen around the world, that there is shock and horror at police meeting protests against police violence with even more violence. The Australians were appalled when their reporter was viciously attacked by police in Washington. Most people were shocked when a CNN journalist was arrested. The President talks of taking control of the situation, not of addressing any of the wrongs and injustices inherent in the way coloured people are treated. Now there is Covid 19 to contend with as well, where people who were already struggling, are now dealing with death and loss, large scale unemployment, and consequent loss of health insurance, reduced wages where they do have jobs, and systemic discrimination. Where they do have jobs, they tend to be crowded together as in, for example, meat processing plants. They are just generally worse off, lower paid, and furthermore, encounter discrimination daily.

I have listened to many podcasts which speak of the agony of trying to be respectful, while limiting damage to property – hurting themselves, at times. It’s pointed out that while properties can be replaced – people’s lives can’t.

One thinks back to the book “Profiles of Courage”. Some have shown true courage, but not the President, who hid in a bunker when afraid for his life. He has a perpetual sense of grievance, such that it seems impossible for him to show any kind of empathy. It seems that even the virus shows a sense of discrimination, in not infecting him, in spite of his refusal to take precautions like wearing a mask, even when it’s mandated.

Today I heard former President Obama speak. It is always inspiring and uplifting to hear him speak. I hope it is uplifting for millions of American people. I also hear Chris Cuomo speaking recently to a priest on his CNN show, acknowledging that unborn life is important, but saying what about life after birth? Surely that should be able to be a good life, with the ability to get good education, a good job, and enough to eat?  The priest seemed not really to listen. This is the first time I have heard an American TV Host state such seemingly obvious facts.

I will finish this blog-post now, but I will have more to say on this. Nga mihi nui.

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