When I got this blog post, I wrote back to Sue and told her I wish I could pouf her into the cleaner, and cooler, air of the Pacific Northwest. But then I remembered what August was like in 2017 and 2018, when Seattle was shrouded in smoke coming from fires in British Columbia, Oregon and other parts of Washington State, and I recognized how fragile that clean air is. And while I spent many of those summer days on lockdown, too, the need to stay home didn’t come after months of social isolation with no end in sight. There is nowhere to pouf any of us to.
A ring of fire
by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
There is a ring of fire around Los Angeles today. While the fires are not close to my home, there are many people who have been evacuated from theirs, and the smoke is ubiquitous. While I rarely leave my house, save for a quick errand or my daily neighborhood walk, until the fires are out and the smoke dissipates, I am on full lockdown.
The sunrise, through the haze of smoke, took my breath away, both literally and figuratively. Five minutes of the smoke-filled air and my lungs are not happy. I am doing all the little tricks to pacify them—an emergency inhaler, a cup of hot tea, extra allergy meds, a bit of quiet time. As I sit here in the quietude, I pay homage to the 760,00 people world-wide who have lost their lives to Covid-19 when they could no longer breathe, and the countless numbers of our Sisters and Brothers of Color who, while begging for their lives, have lost those lives to a chokehold, a knee or a policeperson’s gun.
My mind wanders to the upcoming election and the disgusting comments by the current President and his cohorts on the selection of Senator Kamala Harris for Biden’s VP. With this administration, one would not expect civility and a fair fight, but the depth of ugliness is hard to ignore. What is even harder to comprehend is how many Americans remain in lockstep with all of this.
Respect for science is non-existent in this crowd. Climate change regulations have been ignored or decimated. The environment has suffered, and our world is experiencing the ongoing effects of ignorance. The increase of heat on the planet contributes to the world-wide fires. Clean water is not a given, even in this rich country. The air and water quality had begun to improve with appropriate regulations of cars and trucks and manufacturers, but all of those regulations have now been rolled back so a few people can make more money and, again, our poorest suffer.
The lack of respect for science dramatically impacts our health and response to this Pandemic. This inept President had an opportunity in January to be a mensch. It would not have taken much. His crowd will say, “Well, he banned incoming flights right away.” That was all well and good, but it wasn’t enough. Once the science caught up with the reality of this virus, what he needed to do was say, “Please wear a mask, social distance and stay home.” He could have sent every American a mask and asked our companies to build respirators and sew masks, but instead he said it will go away…poof. Had we started in January, we would not have lost 165,000 Americans. While we would not have prevented all deaths, we would have minimized the pain and suffering in this country.
My worst nightmare is that, despite the obvious momentum towards the Biden/Harris ticket, this current man in power does not play fair. He keeps me on edge wondering what he will do to maintain his hold on this country. Destroy the Post Office? Some Russian release of emails? A fake investigation into Biden or his son?
I do not trust him or his toadies. The only glimmer of hope I have seen are the Lincoln Project ads and the amazing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The fires will be dealt with, the Pandemic will—not quickly, but eventually—come to an end, and I pray number 45 will be history come November 2020.