Twenty years ago I may have been one of the stay at home protesters
today at 9:07 am
Michigan. Chicago. Springfield. Laguna Beach. Huntington Beach.
These are just a few of the places where we’ve seen protests to reopen America. Most of the scenes have ranged from scary to surreal to ridiculous. One word sent people to the streets….Liberate
We’ve seen men carrying assault rifles into the Michigan statehouse. We’ve been treated to people carrying confederate flags, Nazi paraphernalia and MAGA hats. There have been surfers and sun worshipers storming the Orange County, California beaches. These are the people who dominate the news coverage. These are the faces of the protests.
But what about the people out there that we don’t see? What about people who own a small business or restaurant and the loss of a month or two of sales puts their livelihood in jeopardy? What about people who have lost jobs and are worried that their way of life will be destroyed by the Covid-19 pandemic? These are the people that are now struggling to pay their mortgage, put food on the table for their families and basically just trying to keep afloat.
How do you balance your family’s safety with it’s financial concerns? What would you do if you had to make this choice?
For me, it’s easy now to make that choice. I don’t have the concerns of the people I just mentioned. But recently, I wondered what I would have done if the Covid-19 pandemic had occurred twenty years earlier?
In 2000, I was fifty-seven years old. I had a wife and two young daughters, ages nine and seven. I was working for an advertising company. It was a family owned business with about one hundred employees. I had a sales position that had a good income. My wife was also working, but even with two incomes money was tight. For every step you took forward financially, something would come up that would make you take one or more steps back. I’m not complaining. That’s just the way it was twenty years ago. We weren’t the only ones. Plenty of other families had the same issues.
My job was straight commission. No sales equals no income. If you became ill and missed a day of work, it would put you in a hole. If you caught the flu and missed a week, that hole becomes fairly deep.
So what happens if a pandemic hits and the small company is forced to temporarily shut down? How does someone already living check to check survive? How can someone already living close to the edge overcome that?
The answer is sadly, they probably can’t.
That’s why no matter what you think of the clowns that show up on your television each night, you have to have empathy for the ones behind those gruesome scenes. Health vs work is a difficult choice for many Americans. It’s more difficult than many of us think. It’s easy to say staying home and safe is the only choice. It’s not nearly as easy if you’re faced with losing that home which keeps you safe.
The protests to open up America are going to continue. The news outlets will continue to focus on those that act the most outrageous. But when you talk about and hopefully condemn them, don’t forget the folks standing behind them…the ones you can’t see. They’re the ones whose stores you walk into every day. They’re the ones you should be talking about. They’re the ones who really need our support…not our shame. Those protesters are us.
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