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Humanity comes first

Susan Estrich on

Who are these idiots -- excuse me, neighbors -- frolicking on the beach on a warm April day, when frolicking on the beach can cost someone (more than just one someone) their life? But what is a death compared with a life without frolicking on the beach?

You can't just blame the beach frolickers. They're not the only ones who can't wait to get back to business. People may die. People will die. But if the American economy doesn't open back up, a lot more people will lose a lot more money.

Don't tell me this isn't about money. Don't tell me the people in the back room making these decisions are going to be the ones scrubbing floors at community centers next week. Don't tell me the people desperate to get us back to work are thinking of their own parents when expressing that desperation.

It's complicated, I know. Driving cars is dangerous. Building buildings is dangerous. And yet, we continue to do both knowing, with almost precisionlike calculations, how many lives that will cost.

So why is this different? For starters, it's different because of the very great degree of control we have (like it or not) over the spread of this disease. I'm losing my mind. I'm not the only one. But if that's keeping someone alive, it seems fair enough.

Second, it is because we are all coming to understand that when the history of this disease is written, it will not be written in race-neutral or class-neutral terms. The official wave may have seemed to strike everywhere, but in fact, it hit hardest where people live in closest proximity, where families cram into apartments, where poor people live on top of one another. And so, when the numbers are finally added up, we should not express surprise to see their concentration among the poor nor blame it on the quality of medical care.

 

It is for both these reasons that we face a third mandate: to not let our frustrations, our greed, our panic, our legitimate despair get in the way of our humanity. Trading a life for a job, a community for a building -- let us think of it as our lives, as our communities, and ask if there is another way, even if that other way is simply patience.

Stay safe.

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To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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