COVID, Monsters, and Power

Google results from the keyword "January 6, 2021" search

Shaunesse' is a PhD student at Boston University studying ethics and theology, and is an Interfaith America Racial Equity Media Fellow.

 

Since December, I’ve found myself struggling to write. The entirety of 2020, despite many good memories and experiences, was so draining that I wanted nothing more than to curl in a ball and skip every Zoom meeting on my calendar. I wanted to throw all of my devices out of the window and hope the lack of tech was a viable excuse to avoid the virtual world that I might sit with myself to reflect on all that transpired. That didn’t happen because I’m typing this post on the very laptop I wanted to throw away and I keep checking news updates on the very phone I wanted to smash. If you couldn’t tell, I was slightly frustrated and at my wits’ end.

I’m positive there are many others who felt this way as we all pretended that the absurd increase in “productivity” during a global pandemic that continues shifting our culture was actually normal and necessary. We continued working, producing, and shaming ourselves for not being productive enough, proving that we learned nothing from those early months when our lives slowed, and we briefly reassessed what was most important. We promised to establish newer, healthier boundaries and protect our physical wellbeing. We were going to spend more time with our loved ones and remove ourselves from toxic relationships. We were even considering investing in our passions and doing the things that gave us most fulfillment. Yet, here we are one month into the new year performing the same troublesome tasks we were performing a year ago. If this is the case for no one else, it’s the case for me.

As I grapple daily with the ways a months-long battle with COVID-19 continues to wreck my body, I am painfully aware I have not learned balance. I have not set boundaries. And I definitely have not protected my physical wellbeing. What does it look like to stare down a monster and take back the power you once gave it? I believe many communities across the country are asking some form of this question these days. Please bear with me as I attempt a creative analysis tying together my experience with that of the nation’s.

From mid-March to June I suffered a severe case of COVID-19 and the first thing I had to accept was the new reality that I would feel close to normal a handful of days followed by a week or more of intense and debilitating symptoms. My first symptom was sneezing, which I brushed off as allergies. Then I had no appetite for an entire day, but I explained that away as my attention being fully captured by a marathon of documentaries I delayed watching due to my demanding graduate school work schedule. Finally, I attempted to walk from my couch to my kitchen—less than fifteen steps apart—only to feel as though I was standing in a pool and someone was pulling down on my body with all their might. For two days prior, I felt my body changing but I ignored and explained away my symptoms until I couldn’t breathe. I don’t know if anything would change had I paid attention to my symptoms earlier, but those first days alerted me to the necessity of checking in with myself regularly to understand my limitations and to begin administering the care I need in the moment. As one of many COVID long-haulers, I can no longer wait until I can’t breathe to take care of myself.

My healing journey has not been linear in any sense of the word, but it has been crucial in shaping how I now choose to show up in the world. I see many similarities between my COVID-19 journey and the current state of the nation. Many of us naively fell into the short-lived relief that Joe Biden’s presidential win would solve many of the caustic problems we experienced under Trumpism. While there would still be work to do, it would feel different to engage in that justice work because an intentionally divisive person would no longer be leading the country. In the final days of the Trump presidency, we ignored the symptoms of antagonistic tweets, emotionally charged demands for loyalty, planned challenges to the electoral college votes, and harassment of elected officials in airports. We explained away those symptoms as minimal backlash and crushed emotions. We missed abundant opportunities to address the virus that had long ago overtaken the country and was headed for a vital organ. And we were very avoidant of checking in with ourselves to understand our real needs.

On 6 January 2021, the country tried to take a step forward from one presidency to the next, but it felt as though something heavy was pulling the nation down. A rally at the White House evolved into a siege at the Capitol, attempted coup, and the last lived day for six people. The country’s infection reached its highest point. We couldn’t breathe. As a quick aside, I think of each of the nation’s communities—you pick how those are differentiated—as important organs, each contributing to our overall health. Many communities—read systemically, politically, and economically marginalized—knew all too well about this virus because we became so accustomed to illness and neglected care that we never assumed we would know health. But some communities were just feeling the intense effects of this viral takeover; and now that we’re all up to speed, important healing work must be done.

As with my COVID-19 recovery, this is not a linear process. We have to go back to the onset of our symptoms, understand how we willingly subjected parts of our national body to such horrors, and begin holistically caring for our newly recognized needs. Do we continue explaining away symptoms because we think we’re healed under a new administration, or do we sit with an unwell system and collectively engage in betterment? Do we force a linear healing journey, or do we educate ourselves about the many ills that have plagued our country and address each of them to root out injustice? How do we stare down the monster and take back the power we once gave it?

After watching the presidential inauguration out of genuine fear that someone would be assassinated and desperately needing to know everyone walked away alive, I made many pledges to myself because I found myself not breathing for extended periods of time. I pledged to myself that I will stare down the racist stereotype monster and live a life of joy impervious to the claws of white supremacist narratives. I will stare down the religious homophobia monster and live out a God-ordained interfaith ministry that affirms the divine in all things, even this queer little theologian/ethicist from Shreveport, LA. I will stare down the capitalist monster and practice intentional boundaries that protect my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing. I will stare down the institutional monster and no longer allow imposter syndrome to make me feel inferior in spaces in which I rightly and meritoriously deserve to be. I will continue staring down every inequity monster I encounter and amplify the voices of my siblings who have yet to find their microphones. How will you engage in staring down your monsters to reclaim the power you once gave them? How will your individual life heal this nation? How will we all be made whole this new year?

 

 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. echoed Theodore Parker, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Let’s bend it together.
In both my work as an interfaith leader and a dancer, rethinking is all about opening our minds, asking questions, and having conversations.
Some U.S. churches have been reckoning with this activity for years through ceremonies, apologies and archival investigations, while others are just getting started.
A global study of the communication patterns of 1.3 million workers during the global lockdown showed the average workday increased by 8.2% during the pandemic, and the average number of virtual meetings per person expanded by almost 13%.
Across Missouri, hundreds of pastors, priests and other church leaders are reaching out to urge vaccinations in a state under siege from the delta variant. Health experts say the spread is due largely to low vaccination rates — Missouri lags about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have initiated shots.
The solution, said Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, is “the loving care of a family, not another orphanage.” He pointed to Scripture passages that say God sets the lonely in families and call on Christians to care for those who have been orphaned.
The following interview features Debra Fraser-Howze, founder and president of Choose Healthy Life, an initiative that fortifies community infrastructure to better address the pandemic in Black communities. The interview was conducted by Shauna Morin for IFYC; it has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The seven monks have been clearing brush from around the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and running a sprinkler system dubbed “Dharma rain,” which helps keep a layer of moister around the buildings.
Over 800 Muslim Americans are expected to attend the family-focused event at the Green Meadows Petting Farm in Ijamsville, Maryland, making it one of the larger such gatherings around the country in the era of COVID-19.
Besides demanding equitable distribution of vaccines, the Interfaith Vigil for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Access called on the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rights for vaccine manufacturing in order to enable more countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines domestically.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, slaughtering of livestock and giving meat to the needy.
Our Lady of La Vang is said to have appeared in a remote rainforest in the late 1700s to a group of Catholics fleeing persecution in Vietnam.
This article is part of a series called Faith in the Field that explores responses to Covid-19—including vaccination efforts—within different faith communities. 
Yet the debate about the vaccine in Tennessee is not solely a debate about science. Rather, I believe the vaccine debate is also a referendum on our public capacity to embrace vulnerability.
The study found that while there are many promising signs that students perceive support for their RSSIs on campus, there is also considerable room for improving welcome, particularly for students whose RSSIs are a minority.
Coronavirus deaths among clergy are not just a Catholic problem, said Andrew Chesnut, chair of Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, with faith leaders across denominations having elevated exposure rates as “spiritual front-line workers” ministering to the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes.
Legislation legalizing human composting has encountered religious resistance from the Catholic Church.
From the 26th of November, 2020, a farmers protest has been in existence on the outskirts of Delhi, India’s capital city. For the past eight months, farmers in the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, have been fighting three laws that threaten the future of agriculture in the country.
Sivan and I feel that it is crucial to work for increased vaccination rates, particularly with more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants emerging across the country and throughout the world.
We made calls to friends, disseminated flyers, engaged in social media marketing, partnered with faith-based communities, and engaged the local health department to encourage members of our community to come to our upcoming clinic and get vaccinated.
"It’s not about accepting other’s beliefs and pushing your own away - it is about being respectful, while still having the freedom to express your beliefs"

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.