I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it seems that every time something important is happening in Washington DC, most corporate and social media outlets re-direct our attention to scandals and frivolous details instead of the main story. This week, 3 main stories are happening, but only one is flooding social media and consistently mentioned in the news. First, Hurricane Maria is no less devastating than the recent Harvey and Irma, but because it hasn’t hit the US Mainland (just one of those pesky territories), it’s not at the top of anyone’s list. Second, the current ACA Repeal bill, the Graham-Cassidy bill, will be put to a vote within the next few days, and if passed, will deny millions of Americans basic health care and strip some of the protections for women’s health care. And third, many NFL players are joining Colin Kaepernick in silent protest of police brutality against African Americans. All three are life threatening, but only one is receiving major attention by our president and media, and that one, though no less devastating or important than the other two, is the one that has been twisted into a free-for-all debate over free speech rather than honoring the actual intent of the protest, and which overshadows the immediate threats to millions of American lives (including Puerto Ricans and American Citizens living on the island in the case of Irma and the millions who will not be able to get healthcare without the ACA).
This morning, I’m truly ashamed of our national priorities. Ok, so I’ve been ashamed of them since the 2016 Election, but that’s another story. I think that the question is, Where do we go from here? Perhaps it’s time that we stop fighting each other over the details of who is more important and which threat is more immediate and what constitutes free-speech vs dissent vs disrespect, and focus on the fact that all of these are important. All of these point to a system that is inherently racist, sexist, ableist and cares nothing for the working poor without whom our economy wouldn’t exist. They also point to the fact that our infrastructure cannot support the sheer numbers of people affected by natural disasters, which are increasingly more dangerous and more devastating due to climate change. Additionally, they show how unsustainable our system is when it’s workers cannot take care of their basic health and work, and those who do not work will not be able to afford the goods or services being produced.
Perhaps it’s time that we focus on the reality that we have so many systematic failures in our current government, lifestyles, economy and priorities that no one will be unscathed in the end, and that unifying for solutions is a necessity if we give a damn about our future as a nation, and even as a species. There are solutions out there, and many people are doing what they can to be a part of it. However, the energy that we are wasting over every little distraction and scandal that comes down the line could be better put to civic and civil engagement.
I may be wrong. I may not have all the answers… but I’m not giving in to the latest sensationalism and I’m not giving up on our potential to create a sustainable and equitable solution.