As I write this, I’m sitting in my happy, colorful, dining room on an already warm summer Wednesday morning. The world inside my house is a pretty great one: four of the kids are here this week — three of mine and one of my partner’s. Two of them are sitting with me as I write, working on an intricate craft project together; a third one flits in and out, helping on occasion.
Projects in varying states of doneness are strewn across the extra-long dining table, preventing the table from ever being used for its stated purpose, but adding a positive, energetic quality with their mostly manageable clutter. A mix of pop music streams from my almost-17-year-old’s phone — music all four of the teens seem to know by heart. Laundry is churning, the dishes have been put away, online orders completed for some necessary items.
My life is good, for many reasons. I am lucky enough to have teenagers that want to hang out not only with each other but with me. I have almost everything I need and lots of extras. I am, without a doubt, privileged, in nearly every category.
It is easy to stay inside this happy, protected, privileged bubble, to close my eyes to all that is happening in the messy, outside world; to live in denial and imagine the world is just fine. In fairness, sometimes the denial — the temporary forgetting about all the challenges we are facing down right now, the looking away from the suffering so many are experiencing — sometimes this is exactly what I need, what we all need. Because this is a lot; it’s all very heavy and difficult, and oh-so tiring. So we crawl inside our good lives, our privileged lives, to rest and nourish our souls and bolster our strength. This is all good, as long as we remember to reemerge, to open our eyes again and see the outside world, to remember what is happening.
We need to remember there is still a global pandemic raging. Yes, Colorado’s numbers of cases and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have been dropping, and that is fantastic; however, a quick scan of the stats in neighboring states reveals that the virus is far from gone. Further, most experts are predicting another spike of the virus in late August. We need to be vigilant and cautious as we begin to venture out more and more frequently — not just for our own health, but for the health of our friends and neighbors, for the most vulnerable members of our community, those we know and those we don’t. Are wearing a mask and social distancing slightly inconvenient? Sure, but the key word here is slightly. I think these are small inconveniences we can endure to show love and care for each other.
We need to remember the riots and protests of the last month (some of which are ongoing still) protests drawing attention not only the horrific, racist crimes committed against far too many black Americans, but also to the great, racial divide in the United States. From upper-middle-class, suburban, North Colorado Springs, the “not-seeing” of racism is far too easy. I don’t see the steep cliff of racial inequality, don’t see my own extreme privilege as a white person, because I barely even see race: the vast majority of the population here is white. I have almost no black friends or friends of color — a statistic I’m not proud of in the least. I don’t know about the injustice black people face because I don’t see it; my guess is most of us don’t see it, in our mostly white community. Perhaps it’s time we opened our eyes, broadened our outlook, widened our circles, and listened. Personally, I know I have a lot to learn.
We need to remember that, just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court stated, in a landmark ruling, that employers could not discriminate against an individual for sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I am beyond thrilled for the significant measure of protection this ruling provides for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals; I am saddened, however, that the LGBTQ+ community is still struggling for basic protections such as these now, in 2020, in the U.S. This is another area in which it is easy to be blind, particularly if you don’t have many friends in this community. I invite you to reach out and stretch yourself further, to listen and learn; begin to see, feel, and know the struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals.
And then, where do we go? What more can we do? I think we have to learn, first, to listen and educate ourselves. Next, maybe we ask how we can help, to make ourselves available if needed. But I think we begin with the seeing: the moving outside of our comfortable, safe lives, and truly seeing the needs and hurts of others — especially others different from ourselves.
Elizabeth Eden is a mom, writer, yoga instructor and musician. She lives in Northgate with her big, beautiful, messy clan. In her free time, she enjoys wine, dystopian novels and documentaries on quantum physics. Send her ideas and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.