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A Better Way Forward


June 10, 2020

Since early March of this year when the COVID-19 pandemic reached our community, the concept of “normal” has been thrown out of the window.  It has been more than just a public health crisis.  As we seek to contain and minimize the virus, life has changed with social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment, navigating supply chain shortages, and feeling the economy struggle.  Weeks and weeks passed, trend lines rose and fell. Then, as many began to see normal on the horizon, life resumed by grabbing dinner at their favorite restaurant, getting their hair trimmed, and planning a long-overdue weekend trip.

The “normal” was ripped away again when the tragic stories and videos of the brutal deaths of Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd shook our nation to its core.  Unfortunately, their tragedies continue centuries long trends of racial disparity and discriminations that unjustly burdens people of color in our communities.  Ahmaud, Breonna, and George left the earth too soon and their tragic deaths remind us that there are ugly parts of normal that need to change.

As I write this, trend lines for COVID-19 are bouncing up and down again, protests and civil (and often uncivil) disagreements continue, and nothing feels normal anymore.  Maybe that is a good thing.  The unpredictable events of 2020 presents us a collective reason to regroup and build a better way forward.  We can take what we have experienced and learn to build a more just, accessible, and thoughtful path.

For our senior citizens, a better way forward means giving them a voice as valued members of society, including members who have experienced six, seven, eight, even nine decades of racial disparity from segregation, discrimination, and unjust systematic structures. The new way must protect seniors from unlawful behaviors in our communities and especially targeting those who prey on vulnerable older adults.  A better way means increasing accessibility to nutritionally rich and fresh foods that support healthy living.  It means incorporating seniors in our community so they stay connected.  And sometimes that means supporting them in innovative and physically safe ways when leaving home becomes too risky—including widespread broadband access and technological training to increase telehealth usage and social interaction from text messaging to video chats.

In every corner of our lives, 2020 has disrupted our view of normal.  Let us commit to using this moment in time to leave normal in the past and make life better together.  We owe it to past generations and the ones still to come to take this moment in time and create a better way forward.

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