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Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

Happy Friday! The weekend is just within reach! How are you doing? Are you taking time to check-in with yourself and give yourself the care, love, and attention you need? If not, it’s perfectly okay to set aside time for yourself to do whatever you want/need to do during ‘me time.’ Maybe it’s yoga, meditation, running, reading, building a pallet garden, dancing your silly little heart out to some music in your living room, or even playing animal crossing (does it seem strange to anyone else that all the island responsibilities fall on you and not the other island residents?). Whatever you want to do during your assigned ‘me time,’ make sure you’re doing it and giving yourself a break. Also, if you’re protesting and helping support the Black Lives Matter movement, you might also need to set aside some me time to rest, recharge, and check in with yourself. That’s okay, too. It’s important to take extra care of yourself and be extra kind to yourself right now. Just do your best, and if some days you fall short of feeling like your best, each day is another opportunity to try again.

This is advice for you, dear reader, but it is also advice for me. I’ve had several conversations with my boyfriend, my friends, and my family recently about everything happening in the world where I’ve had to remind myself out loud that I can’t solve all the world’s problems and I especially can’t do it in one day. You can’t do it in one day, either, but together we can work to make long-standing legislative changes that take place over time. When I first sat down to write this blog, I was hoping to write about the beauty of Bray and its coastal views given yesterday's post, but I have been so stressed and anxious and angry and sad about everything happening that I needed to write what's been in my heart and on my mind instead.

If you’re reading this blog, the odds are pretty high that you’re an adult. And as an adult, I know you know that life can be complicated and challenging. Heck, my family’s been dealing with completely redoing our house due to a flood and mold issue and negligent insurance companies. We’ve been displaced from our home for nearly 2 years, are likely going to lose everything within our home’s walls, and just the other night, trees fell on both my and my dad’s cars. But you know what? No one was hurt, and, ultimately, material things can be replaced. You know what can’t be replaced? Human life.

I know I can’t change everyone’s minds on gun reform or universal healthcare or abortion, and I’m sure you have your inner system of core beliefs that guide you to hold whatever opinion you do. And I respect your right to hold your opinion. I only hope that you’ll keep an open mind and that you’ll never have to be displaced from your home or lose all your family photo albums or have trees smash your cars. But if you have ever experienced these types of hardships that can happen to anyone, I hope you can recognize that the type of police brutality that occurred in George Floyd’s death is not a hardship that happens to just anyone.

People want to talk about his autopsy report - that he tested positive for Coronavirus and had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his blood - as if those other conditions really mattered. If someone kneels on your neck for nearly 9 minutes and you say “I can’t breathe,” that person moves his knee. How many times have you wrestled with your children or wrestled with your siblings when you were a child and had to ‘tap out’ or say ‘uncle’ so they would let you go? If you can remember a situation like that where simply tapping out or saying ‘uncle’ got you free (almost instantly), take a moment and reimagine that situation where you’re pinned down in a dangerous way for nearly 9 minutes, trying to say ‘uncle’ while your air supply is being cutoff, and being ignored by the person pinning you down.

And you want to talk about the illegal drugs in his system at the time? Yes, we can, but I can tell you that fentanyl and methamphetamine are drugs that don’t discriminate. How do I know? I had a foster sister to whom I was very close die of a heroin and fentanyl overdose two-and-a-half years ago. If she had tried to pay with counterfeit money, she would not have received the same treatment as George Floyd. She might have been arrested given her issues with drug use, but she would not have been pinned to the ground with a knee on her neck. I also would not be pinned to the ground with a knee on my neck if I tried to pay for something with fake money.

I’ve been passionate about the corruption within the state-funded foster care systems for awhile since it is part of my daily life, but it’s simply a microcosm within a much larger, broken system. It’s a system in which black people can be murdered while people film the act on their phones, a system in which many foster kids aren’t given a fighting chance for a better life while billionaires make deals behind closed doors on their private yachts, a system in which police officers and national guard are geared up to the extreme while citizens make homemade masks for frontline hospital workers, a system in which we reward veterans with an unfathomable daily suicide count. It is a system that casts aside people it deems unworthy or without value. What the system fails to see is that every single person has worth and value. We’re a nation that prides itself on its rebellious split from King George, a nation that includes the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in our Declaration of Independence, a nation that boasts five basic freedoms in the First Amendment: Freedom of speech, press, petition, assembly and religion, a nation that self-describes as great. But we’re not doing great, and it’s okay to admit when things are bad. Things aren’t great, and they haven’t been for awhile. And it’s okay to acknowledge that fact in order for necessary changes to be made that get us back to what we were supposed to stand for in the first place: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It's 2020, and a lot of positive change has occurred since 1776, but we need to keep moving forward and keep fighting for the equality that marginalized groups deserve.

Systemic racism is in our nation’s blood, and now our “leaders” must wear that blood on their hands for the world to see. We can no longer brush these deaths under the rug because Black Lives Matter, and they matter immensely. And they are equal and deserving of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness as set forth by one of our nation’s most treasured documents.

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