I’m just stewing!
I’m no longer a broadcast journalist. Now I’m simply a prisoner advocate, trying to hold the hands of people behind bars, as well as their friends and loved ones, during this pandemic. Right now I’m fretting, after hearing these updates:
-More than a quarter-million people have died from Covid 19
72,000 in the United States
More than 4,000 in Michigan
More than 40 in Michigan prisons.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not hearing a lot of weeping.
I remember when George H. W. Bush received his party's nomination for president of the United States in 1988. In his acceptance speech, he called for a "kinder, gentler nation."
Who can forget that day in 2001, when terrorism raised our blood pressure to new heights? Two days after 9/11, in a press conference, the Christian Science Monitor’s Francine Kiefer asked President George W. Bush: "About the prayer day tomorrow, Mr. President. Could you give us a sense as to what kind of prayers you are thinking and where your heart is for yourself?" In his first public expression of emotion since this most traumatic event, his eyes welled with tears. He leaned forward: "Well, I don't think about myself right now. I think about the families, the children."
I was touched, in 2015, when President Obama sang 'Amazing Grace' during the funeral of Clementa Pinckney. Rev. Pinckney was the pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and was one of 9 people killed in a massacre at the church.
Empathy and compassion trickled down.
At the national level, I’ve not heard one word of condolence, grief or compassion from our President.
At the state level, I saw people with guns storming our capitol claiming rights were being stolen or violated, but I heard no words of empathy for the sick, the dying and the grieving.
When it comes to Michigan prisons, we simply receive numbers every day. Numbers of men and women who tested positive, numbers of staff members who tested positive, numbers of inmates who died from the virus, and numbers of prison staff persons who perished from this curse. Just statistics.
Perhaps I was a hardened newsman. In my 29 years as a reporter, I covered, first hand, more deaths from traffic accidents, fires, water tragedies and criminal acts than you could ever imagine. But I learned about grief at a young age when my only sister was killed by a drunk driver---a young married woman, preparing to start a family and build a career. That very incident colored the way I reported every fatal accident from that day on. I personalized the stories I wrote. I often dropped a personal note to the families of traffic victims.
We’re going to survive this crisis. But as a part of our survival, we must not ignore those who are suffering.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.