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500 Words: A Certain Kind of Blindness

If the recent snowfall made you dream about mai-tais on the beach or desert hikes; if you’re longing for the simple joy of hanging out; if you’re craving dinner parties and indiscriminate hugs; I say, join the club. I am yearning to stand too close, to reach out and hold a hand. I’d like to sleep through the night without waking up anxious! I want it to be like it was before.

But even as I long for things to “return to normal,” I’m getting schooled on how things really were, and are.  As they say, “Privilege is a certain kind of blindness.”

My privilege—and my blindness—are of long-standing. My dad had a steady job, there was always enough to eat and a house to live in, and my parents helped all eight of us go to college. Stable family? Tick. Food, shelter and clothing? Tick. Education? Tick. Caucasian? Tick. I didn’t realize that I had it all.  When I got arrested for demonstrating, I didn’t get beaten—I was a white girl. When I dropped out of school, I knew I’d have help to go back. When I was broke, or sliding into depression, I knew I could always go home for a while.

I mention these privileges because one of the slogans of this past spring—as COVID 19 washed over us—was, “We’re all in the same boat.” That line was quickly modified as it became obvious that the coronavirus was hitting some people much harder than others. The new version became, “We’re all in the same storm but in vastly different boats.” Jeff Bezos added $24 billion to his wealth; his workers fought for $15/hour. In our communities, some risked their lives to care for others and keep food on the table; some of us stayed home and cleaned closets.

So here we are again, pandemic redux. The infection rates are skyrocketing south of the border. BC cases are also climbing exponentially and, unless checked by our commitment to each other, will soon fill our hospitals and empty our nursing homes.

Not much has changed in the last eight months, except that some people’s boats have started taking on water. I’m floating well, except for that general anxiety and sleeplessness we all seem to share. But when I say that I’m longing for a dinner party, I also know now that the number of families in our own community who will need food assistance by Christmas has doubled. While I’m longing to go somewhere warm, I know that in our own community there are “COVID refugees” living in tents back in the woods. There are folks going under, all around us. Can we see them?

If privilege is a certain kind of blindness, then the recognition of our mutual interdependence is a certain kind of seeing. There are some people who are seeing pretty clearly these days. They could use our support: the Food Hamper Society (358-7787); the New Denver and Area Housing Society (); the Koots Kids Clothing Exchange (358-2647).

 

 

 

 

 


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