The Virus

The Virus

Dianna Hatfield Clemenson

I wonder what our elders think, the ones ravaged by dementia.  How can they understand viewing their loved ones through a computer or phone screen only? What are talking picture telephones anyway?  They never had them in their earlier years. And why, oh why have all their beloveds stopped visiting? Even their loyal friends who daily help dressing, and medicines and eating, these friends wear masks and gloves and gowns.  Is there something wrong with me; might I hurt them simply by breathing?

I fear for the children of the working poor.  No school, no school breakfast or lunch. On-line classes, indeed! Is it assumed every household has a computer, table or phone? Many children, teens and adults use public library computers. CLOSED. How to explain a germ, a virus, an unseen entity to a young child?  How to comfort a child when his parent is sick with worry over the lost paycheck? Will hunger and homelessness follow these children for weeks or months after the virus is contained?

I think of the New Americans who’ve escaped untold horrors to begin life anew in the land of the free and home of the brave. The path to the American Dream is blocked by many barriers, and now even more.  When unemployment hits 30 %, what happens to the least employable, our neighbors learning a new language, a new culture? America was built by immigrants.  What happens when immigrants are blocked from building? Immigrants and refugees are a tough lot; ask any re-location social worker. But they, like all of us, may be no match for the invisible foe.

And what of those tired, poor and huddle masses yearning to breathe free?  The Asylum seekers are now in jails and prisons, overcrowded in inhumane circumstances.  Toddlers ripped from their mothers’ arms, filled with terror daily.  Now, an unseen nemesis stalks them, parents and children alike. How many will die, because surely many will. Will we hear of it, or are we now in the business of digging our own mass graves?

Our jails and prisons are being emptied, “to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” so we are told. Could it be that our elected officials are loathe to spend taxpayer dollars to save the lives of the incarcerated, whether incarcerated justly or unjustly? And alas, where will these souls go, these neighbors on the fringes of society, whose lot in life paved their way to prison? Have they jobs?  Have they shelter? Have they access to health care when even some highly insured do not? If they are stricken, do they have face masks to keep from spreading the virus? 

Perhaps this equal opportunity destroyer will teach us the fallacy of Us and Them.  There is no Us and Them.  There is only We.

Pray, God, give us the courage, compassion, and cooperation required to face this hour. Empower us with empathy, knowledge and discernment, in equal measure to all. Turn this mess into a masterpiece, as only you can, and transform us into the kind human beings you’d have us to be.

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