Ain’t Gonna Study War No More

It’s been a weird couple of weeks.

My father’s twin brother died on Holy Saturday and was buried Monday. However, since the pandemic has made it impossible for large groups to gather, there were only 10 people at the graveside.

My uncle did not die of Covid-related things, yet his death during this time highlights something for me.

So much of the talk about the novel coronavirus is framed in war language. And frankly, all of the war talk is leaving me cold. This is not a war; the virus, while unwelcome, is not an enemy in the traditional sense. Plus, talking about this in war language makes it easier to continue to ignore the real issues that have been present for generations.

Because the war talk has left me cold, the biblical stories that would seem to be a fit for this time don’t work for me either. So instead of the Prophets, I’ve been reading the book of Ruth. Ruth is all about survival and the things we do when pressed into survival mode.

A lot of people are in survival mode right now. For some, this is a new phenomenon. Thing is, for a not insignificant portion of the population, survival mode is their everyday.

I think a lot about those who are essential workers. And how, because America is America, they are at greater risk because the powers and principalities have set up systems to make them more vulnerable.

There is a reason that African Americans, Latinx people, and Indigenous people are more likely to contract Covid-19 and die from it. Multiple reasons, actually. They are most likely to occupy those jobs that are now being considered essential. And they are, through no fault of their own, most likely to have the underlying medical conditions that make them more susceptible to contracting the disease.

This is why the war talk when it comes to Covid-19 falls flat for me. Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are not collateral damage in this. When the powers and principalities make it so that the marginalized and despised are the primary targets, this cannot be called a war. It is something much more sinister.

The longer we’re in the midst of this, the more I feel like this is Hurricane Katrina 2.0; marginalized communities are blamed for their conditions and the rest of the country ignores what those marginalized communities have to say about why they are in those conditions in the first place.

Dr. Anthony Pinn has written a piece where he says that this situation can’t be theologized. I agree.  The question I come away with is what will we learn and change?


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