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Balancing While Boiling

Terry H. Schwadron

May 31, 2020

Maybe my wife and I just took the wrong few hours on an early morning Saturday to recover from a bad news week for the world as we know it. Try not to dwell on the things you can’t directly change, a close friend had advised. Remember to take care of yourself is a mantra for these especially chaotic times.

So, several hours passed in mental lockdown to accompany physical separateness. With great effort, the weeds were dispatched, the ground turned over, small vegetables and flowers found their rightful places and forgotten muscles made their aches known. Our overly local world was a little healed.

It was idyllic while it lasted. A moment of patience.

The return of stomach-churning reckoning with the world took only moments.

Donald Trump was offering to send the active U.S. military into Minneapolis to restore order at the point of live ammunition automatic weapons, even potentially superseding Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had announced mobilization of 13,000 National Guard troops. Isn’t this illegal on top of showing contempt for the causes of the unrest being felt coast to coast?

Interestingly, Walz was explaining that 80% of those arrested in a fourth night of rioting in response to the police killing of George Floyd were from out of state — and that a significant number were actually white supremacists who reportedly were fostering violence being widely attributed to an inflamed black community or from far-left Antifa-like anarchist groups. All with thin evidence, other than agreement that white protesters are leading the violence while black protesters are focused on ill treatment. What? They’re not content spreading hate and violence on their own?

It all serves to allow Trump to display a fist rather than an outstretched hand to the black community, and while I can protest and make noise, I can’t make Donald Trump care about anything than success at looking tough, if useless.

At the Same Time

Meanwhile, a new generation of space travel was opening at the same time before thousands of mostly mask-less, happy and not-rioting people gathered on Florida beaches. They wanted to celebrate a private company perform what we all had thought was a government role. Somehow, to me, the public thrill of space was hard to handle while we are in crisis, though Trump, Mike Pence, and all the younger Trumps had no problem with popping virtual Champagne while Minneapolis burns and ICU wards remain full.

And all was unfolding in a time of continuing pandemic, with the White House playing international bumper cars with China, showing indifference to a world contagion through withdrawal by personal irk at the World Health Organization. Maybe it’s time for another round of golf.

We are faced simultaneously with flagging, but unending contagion meeting an impatient American public facing the biggest wave of joblessness and economic woes since the 1930s, while having to watch what we all are calling a police murder of a black man on the streets on Minneapolis in broad daylight for no apparent reason.

It is difficult to sort that this is a disease that the American President made worse through delay, government incompetence and personal political pique that has left us with more than 100,000 deaths that have hit disproportionately at black and brown communities.

A Pandemic of Impatience

What’s worse is that the twin pandemic of impatience is also guaranteeing that contagion is here to stay, We want it all resolved in under 30 minutes, like any good sit-com, or maybe an hour, like The Apprentice. So, it is perfectly reasonable to see an American public thumbing its mask-free noses at state government guidelines for the safest re-opening are being widely ignored in favor of individual concern for self rather than public health.

The riots came about, in part, because justice officials couldn’t arrest the errant criminals in police uniform fast enough, though the four were fired in that first day.

Now white supremacists or Antifa antagonists see an opportunity to strike violently, while putting the blame on an angered community. Who has the patience to sort all this madness out?

I try in my own ways, I plead, I write, but I can’t make Donald Trump show empathy for virus effects any more than for a country torn asunder by racism, classism, income inequality, and the ever-present need to divide.

Maybe the election, for which I am impatient, will be a referendum on impatience.


Written by

Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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