Before discussing social justice, just an observation or two about the pandemic that is on all of our minds.
One of our special friends is a medical doctor in San Mateo California. Her specialty is infectious diseases. She has been on the front lines of many battles and is battling once again.
When I talked to her, several things struck me. Coronavirus is a world-wide epidemic thus it is a pandemic. What makes it worse than the normal influenza epidemics we suffer yearly, is the unknown nature of the virus and the viral strength it is showing.
The viral nature is the reason for caution. We may worry about contracting the disease (and at 77 with a stroke for an underlying condition, I do worry), but as a person of faith, I have a big responsibility to care for others. I cannot be like the pastor of a large church in Louisiana who believes the pandemic is a political ploy and continues to hold services. I must do everything I can to prevent the spread for the sake of others.
What struck me the deepest is my insensitivity to the problems of infectious diseases. Many blogs ago I pointed out my lack of sensitivity to automobile deaths in America. Even though our daughter was killed in a wreck, I did not realize 40,000 people a year are killed in car and truck accidents.
My friend fights infectious diseases every year. I was aware influenza is a problem and I take my flu shots. What I did not realize was — in the US the average death rate is around 36,000. She went further to point out we lost 10,000 people from the H1N1 epidemic in 2010. I had no idea; I will try to be more educated and sensitive.
The figures are staggering and the coronavirus is more viral.
So as they say in the cop shows – be careful out there. Or as we say in the day of the quarantine—be careful in there.
I stated I was going to present my ideas on social justice in short segments. My first is to explain where my concern about the terms racism and sexism begins.
I like the saying: Renaming is not explaining. I believe that is one of the major problems with the terms racism and sexism. Using racism or sexism as descriptions of prejudice behavior is acceptable. Too often the terms are used as explanations. When that happens the terms are simply renaming the behavior and not explaining it.
I believe being satisfied with renaming hurts social progress. Unthinking people are satisfied with meaningless explanations, so they do not explore the causes that would help with the prevention and reduction of the prejudice behavior.
Consider the following — I am walking down the street and see a sign in front of an apartment: Hispanics need not apply. Obviously this is a deplorable act of discrimination. Now assume I ask someone;”Why did that occur? What caused it?” The person replies “racism.” Many people would be satisfied with the answer.
Some who recognize Hispanic as a cultural distinction and not a racial distinction might not be satisfied with the term racism; but would explaining the prejudice act by “culturalism” be any better?
If I went one step further and ask how do you know the behavior was caused by racism (or culturalism)? They might shake their head and think I was stupid. They might believe I do not understand racism because I am white.
I know the act is discriminatory behavior. I am not stupid. I just want a better explanation for the behavior than simply renaming it. I want better explanations so we can combat racist behavior.
To try to make my point even clearer, consider the following – I am walking down the street and I see a husband walk outside and beat his wife for incorrectly watering the flowers. The behavior is deplorable. We can all agree the act is spouse abuse.
Now assume I asked; “why did that occur?” Would you be satisfied with the answer—the husband obviously suffers from spouse abusism? Silly isn’t it! We need better explanations so we can combat spouse abuse.
I hope you begin to see my concern that simply renaming a behavior does not explain it. We need a better understanding than simply thinking racism causes racist behavior and sexism causes sexist behavior to advance social justice.
More next time.
I pray everyone stays safe,
Until next week,