Kindred, the news is bleak

Rouse yourselves to maintain custody of your heart

by Ken Sehested

Kindred, the news is bleak. For we live in the valley of the shadow, when:

• the stock market reaches record-breaking levels in the midst of near-record-breaking rates of unemployment;

• when while the bottom half is saddled with more debts than assets;

• when the is a tenth of that of whites;

• when yet another unarmed Black man is shot—in the back, seven times, while getting in his car where his children are sitting—by police;

• when polls show 57% of Republicans (along with 33% of Independents and 10% of Democrats) believe our nation’s COVID-19 death toll (many times greater than any other nation) is “acceptable”—despite ours being the wealthiest nation in recorded history, purportedly with the world’s most advanced health care system;

• when wildfires in California set yet another record in size and destructive infernos, and similar flames in the Amazon are on track to eclipse 2019’s record;

• when 30 million families lacked sufficient nutrition last week, and lines at food banks stretch blocks—even miles—long;  yet the suicide rate among farmers—who provide our food—is five times greater than the national average;

• when the federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25 (lowest it’s been since the 1960s when adjusted for inflation, yet Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earns approximately $8,961,187 per hour;

• not to mention a monarch aspirant in high office;  and our oldest living president, Jimmy Carter, having described our political economy as “moving toward an oligarchy.”

And yet . . . and nevertheless.

“Though the fig tree does not blossom, / and no fruit is on the vines; / thought the produce of the olive fails / and the fields yield no food; / though the flock is cut off from the fold / and there is no herd in the stalls, / yet I will rejoice in the Sovereign / I will exult in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Which is to say, rouse yourselves to maintain custody of your heart and shield it from the bootleggers of despair.

Let the baptism of firmeza permanente*, relentless persistence, soak you to the bone, so that you may stand ready to confess: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing” (Arundhati Roy).

#  #  #

*A theological movement within the Brazilian church in the 1970s, born of the same impulse as the active nonviolence campaigns of the 1930s-1940s in India and US civil rights movement in the 1950-1960s.
©ken sehested @