You Probably Don’t Understand the Seriousness of Our Situation!
Since 2005, the Splash Pad News or “Newsletter,” as it was originally called, has been reporting on the park, the Farmers Market, the surrounding commercial district, and happenings in the surrounding neighborhoods. On very rare occasions, we have also written about social issues. One example was the February 2019 edition that focused on homelessness. We are pleased to be continuing that discussion this month thanks to Joanne Devereaux’s extraordinary account of the friendship she built with a man living on the streets named “Gustavo.”
Another social issue that we felt absolutely compelled to address was the tragic murder of four Oakland police officers back in 2009. In the opinion piece I wrote shortly thereafter, I talked about our neighborhood farmers market where people of all ages and all colors, faiths, and sexual orientations came together to celebrate the community to which we belonged… despite which, a few short miles away, this horrific act had occurred. One way or another, we had to find ways to bridge the enormous gap between these two disparate worlds.
Eleven years later, the societal inequities at work in 2009 have yet to be resolved, and the obligation to speak out now is ever more urgent as we find ourselves in the midst of a worldwide pandemic universally described as the worst health crisis in the past one hundred years. Simultaneously, our democracy is teetering on the edge of a vast precipice while protestors fill the streets calling for justice for people of color. All the while, much of the West Coast has been burning, mostly due to global climate change’s evolution from a “threat” to a “reality, ” an issue that isn’t being adequately addressed–not even close.
I’ve been on this planet for a very long time, and all the other challenges and threats combined during this seventy-plus-year period pale in comparison. It’s hard to comprehend. It’s harder still to remain hopeful and work for positive change. We have to persist, not for my generation but for the children worldwide whose future is very much in peril.
What can you do?
- Vote early and assist Get Out the Vote efforts in any way possible
- Stay alert and help discount fake news reports on social media
- Support the candidates of your choice through donations, phone banking, or letter-writing
- Wear masks, practice social distancing, and stay healthy
- Support our democratic institutions
- Follow the lead of the Notorious RBG, who if she were still with us, would be doing her damndest to create a dialogue and break down barriers. As a highly precocious thirteen-year-old, she was already doing just that as evidenced by the remarkable essay brought to our attention by subscriber Pankaj Venugopal and posted below.
One People—An Essay by Ruth Bader, Age 13
Bulletin of the East Midwood Jewish Center, Brooklyn NY (June 1, 1946)
The war has left a bloody trail and many deep wounds not too easily healed. Many people have been left with scars that take a long time to pass away. We must never forget the horrors which our brethren were subjected to in Bergen-Belsen and other Nazi concentration camps. Then, too, we must try hard to understand that for righteous people hate and prejudice are neither good occupations nor fit companions. As Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said: “Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.”
In our beloved land families were not scattered, communities not erased nor our nation destroyed by the ravages of the World War. Yet, dare we be at ease? We are part of a world whose unity has been almost completely shattered. No one can feel free from danger and destruction until the many torn threads of civilization are bound together again. We cannot feel safe until every nation, regardless of weapons or power, will meet together in good faith, the people worthy of mutual association. There can be a happy world and there will be once again, when men and women create a strong bond towards one another, a bond unbreakable by a studied prejudice or a passing circumstance.
Then and only then shall we have a world whose structure is the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of men and women.