By Gwendolyn Sterling, Cedar Rapids
I pop in on Facebook every now and then and noticed the only initial Facebook comments on my letter were from self-proclaimed yoga/meditation practitioners. They read a piece that largely dealt with the coronavirus and our collective need to stay vigilant on all issues during these tumultuous times, they honed in on a rather throwaway line about people caring too much about small privileged activities, and that’s all they seemingly took from the piece?!? Yoga and meditation practitioners being myopic, obtuse and reactionary. Does anyone else see the irony here?
To clarify, I have no issue with the practice of yoga and meditation. My problem is when they become co-opted, fetishized and gentrified by denizens of the corporate class.
Moving on. This crisis has, at many times, shown the depth of empathy, compassion and humanity that resides in many of us. (Except those pesky landlords!) I won’t include myself in “us,” mainly because I was so damn mean to those yogis and meditationers. But this pandemic has also exposed an innate inability of our government leaders to organize for the public good. The president says one thing; the governor says another; our city leaders say something else. This is already the proverbial herding of cats, and many of our leaders are coming off like drunk shepherds.
My opinion is that a nationwide shelter-in-place declaration about a week ago likely would have been the best call for containing and flattening this thing. I’ve formed that opinion because many medical experts have advised that as the best course of action. I’d hoped our national leaders would catch on, but each day that passes raises my feeling of impending doom.
Those non-essential factories that I mentioned in my last piece? Yup, many of them are still open and operating as usual as of this writing. Well, except for Amana Whirlpool, which had to close last night because a worker tested positive for the virus and is hospitalized. Why are all these places waiting to close down until someone tests positive and gets sick? That seems like the too-little-too-late approach.
At least we can all now unequivocally know that all this corporate jargon about teamwork and being a family is certified bullshit. Keep those non-essential items rolling until someone gets the virus, at which point there’s a decent chance it has already spread. Profits over people, always. Unbridled Capitalism sure is endearing, isn’t it?
For those of you who have never worked a line, it’s basically impossible to maintain the required physical distance and still do your job in that environment. When non-essential factories don’t close, they put their workers in the rock-and-a-hard-place bind of choosing whether to make a living or risk getting sick. Those workers are going home to their families at night. Those workers and their families deserve better. We all deserve better. I won’t hold my breath that we’ll get it.
Yours in Perpetual Social Distance,