Of Curfews and Clean Up

So if you read any of the local news about the rioting in Grand Rapids Saturday and/or you watched the news yesterday, it raised a couple of questions in my mind…

Was there more than one reason that people came downtown Grand Rapids Sunday morning to help clean up?
• Obviously, there were. There were 100 businesses that were damaged, so if every business had 4 people there cleaning up, thats 400 people.
• Plus, if you believe what you see on the news, there were a lot of people who showed up out of the goodness of their hearts. I believe that to be true as well. I believe that there were people who came to downtown Grand Rapids to help clean up because they are good people and want to do what they feel is best for our city.
• Also, I think there are a lot of people who realize that the businesses downtown have taken a big hit with the pandemic and want to do something to make it a little easier for them to rebuild. One bump in the road is one thing. A bump in the road as well as big ditch is another thing and a whole lot harder.
• There might very well have been (as I’ve heard/read on more than one place) that part of the clean up crew might have been there because they didn’t want to have people see the “protest side” of Grand Rapids when they went back to work today.

One other thing about the protests and today. The Mayor made a declaration of emergency (probably the wrong term but you get what I mean) and as part of that, put a curfew in place from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM unless you are going to or from work. “Oh that sounds like a good idea – make sure that things are calm tonight and tomorrow night.”

We found out tonight that one of our kids youth group leaders was arrested for violating the curfew tonight. She and her husband and I believe 4 others went and sat calmly in the middle of the Rosa Parks Circle shortly before 7:00 P.M. and waited for the police. Apparently it took 9 minutes until the cops came and arrested them.

Was a peaceful protest the right approach to the curfew? Or should it just have been, “oh, okay, time to stay home tonight?”

A peaceful protest to the curfew essentially says, “okay, we are’t causing problems – we are just making it known that we dont agree with the curfew.” Why did they disagree with the curfew? I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure its not something that they are doing because they had a family party to go to.

I’m also pretty confident that they didnt protest the curfew because they just want to complain about government policies.

I think that they protested the curfew in a calm peaceful manner because they felt quite strongly, strongly enough to be willing to get arrested and sent to jail that the curfew was sending the wrong impression.

What was the curfew saying? “We can all breath a sign of relief. The protest is done, the city is calm and all is well.”

Uh, yeah, not really. Omar and Ariana and the other 4 are protesting the curfew because they believe that the curfew sends a message which says, “whew, thats over now we can all go back to normal.” And they want to say…..

Not so fast. What has really changed since Friday? Nothing. There has been been no change in the systemic and institutional racial bias that plaugues this country.

A curfew gives an impression of calm answers. We don’t have that, so protesting is kind of a reminder – hey look, we still have the problems.we need to deal with.

Clean up and curfew. Progress in some ways. Questions and disturbance in others.

And tomorrow the sun will come up.

The struggle will still be there.


Isolation 2.2.1

Isolation 2.2.1

The last time I wrote about being isolated, I called it Isolation 2.0

But now we’re a little farther down the road and that puts us at Isolation 2.2.1.

2 – the second month that most of us have had to live with limitations in order to make sure that our neighbors have the right to see their new granddaughter or watch their son’s basket ball game or go over to the neighbors to play cards.
2 – this is the second week of the second month that Covid 19 has been a big thing. It’s ramifications are broader than what was thought in terms of ages, in terms of the severity of it – it was previously thought that the elder generation was the only ones that would get it strong enough for it to kill them. Now we know that’s not true. It can bring death to patients of any age.
1 – this is the first writing that I’ve done now about Covid 19 and so it is .1. The next will be .2 and so it goes, on and on.

From here, what do I see?
• I see hospital staff all over the world doing their best in a terrible situation that was not planned for. A friend of mine has a sister working on one of the “Mercy Ships” in Africa. She said this virus has totally changed what they are doing and how they are doing it.
• Nicholas Kristof, author and social rights advocate did a piece about working in the ER in a hospital, I believe it was in Brooklyn. Let’s just say that his description of that hospital remind me of the descriptions my wife and friends shared about the hospitals in Port Au Prince Haiti. Scary and not nearly enough.
• My daughter is supposed to be graduating on May 18. She will stlll get her diploma on time but the ceremony and pomp and circumstance will be pushed back to “we’re not really sure yet.”

I see people who are doing amazing things to help others. I see people learning to sew so more people have face masks to wear to keep them and others safe.

I see truck drivers doing “one more load” because there are places that really need their stuff.

I see companies totally switching over what they are building and instead they are making part of the PPE that the medical people need.

I see ministers, ministers and directors of music and chaplains getting very creative in how they can communicate the grace and peace and support that leaning on God really means,

I see ambulance drivers and paramedics and EMTs often being the first ones to show up when someone takes a turn for the worse. They might know that they had the virus, but they were hoping to make it through without having to go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, as time goes on, the economic pain is being felt further and further and deeper and deeper. And people are not happy.

Like I’ve told my daughter who will be a high school senior, “I know this sucks.”

But why? Why did they cancel it? Don’t they know what it means to us?

“Because if 400 people showed up at graduation, you could almost guarantee that at least one person who will be there was the virus. He will pass it to 10 who will pass it to 10 more and BAM! Just like that, you’ve got a situation where not only people at the graduation get sick but others do and suddenly the health department is looking at a spike in the number of cases and the funeral homes are going to see an increase in business. Yeah, it’s that serious.

Let’s talk a minute or two about the protestors:
-Everyone has the power of free speech. They have the right to say they don’t like this or they think that about government or what ever.
-the first amendment doesn’t give them the right to put other lives on the line. Because we’re still in the middle of this pandemic, there is an extremely strong chance that they would pass it on to someone else and we’d be looking at a “protest spike.”

I need some help here. Yes, the protesters have the right to say what they want, they can’t hurt or risk the lives of others. But I don’t get it:

Can you tell me what carrying big guns that, to me a non-expert in types of guns, have to do with protesting a stay at home order from the governor? I don’t understand why. Where they afraid they were going to attacked by the people who’se families were in that hospital? Why?

And what does the confederate flag have to do with a stay at home order? I would be hard pressed to find anyone in the civil war times who attempted to link the Confederate flag or the entire Civil war to people’s ability to go to the store without a mask on?

I don’t get it. To me, it appears that they viewed this as a way to advance their ideas and in the process showed a lot of America that the confederate flag bearing gun toting crowd might not actually be protesting what they say they are. Can you explain it for me? If you can, please do so in the comments below. Any obscene, rude or impolite comments will be deleted.

Explain to me, how do the confederate flag and big guns add to a protest?

And if it has been proven that if you are close enough that someone could sneeze or cough on you, they could give you the virus – even if they don’t have any symptoms of it. If that has been proven, then why do you think it’s good to gather in a direct violation of that law during your protest, especially if you know that you are going to bring it back to your home and community?

One more question for you, if I compare what Governor Snyder did and how he handled the Flint water crisis with the way that Governor Whitmer and how she has handled the corona virus pandemic, the size and scope of the problems are dramatically different but Governor Whitmer has done more to keep our people safe than Gov. Snyder did in. Share your opinions if can do it respectfully,

Thanks for reading,

Tom V

The Problem of Silence

​In these times of confusion and chaos and disturbing facts and disturbing rumors, there’s actually a math equation that helps explain it all.

S = B + AB

S = Silence – business as usual, status quo, carry on, all is well.   Many years ago, I was on the school board of my kids school.  We had dismal turnout for association meetings and we always took that to be an implied agreement with the way things were going.

B = Beliefs – Values – things you see as important.

AB = Appearance of Belief 

So, if you are silent because you believe that things – whatever that might be – your kids school, your church, your sports team, the way the local bakery makes it ‘s donuts or whatever – you believe that those things are going well.   Then silence is okay.   Carry on, all is well.

But, if you are silent, not only are you seen as approving what you believe is going well, you are also giving the appearance of belief in other things that are going on.   You might not believe those things – but if you don’t speak up about them, then it appears that you believe in those.

You might not believe that Clinton’s private e-mail server was right, but if you didn’t speak up about it, you gave the appearance that it didn’t matter.

You might not believe that a certain person should play a role in the new administration, but if you keep silent, it gives the appearance of belief.

You might not believe that it’s okay to ridicule someone with disabilities but if you keep silent, it gives the appearance of belief.

You might not believe that the entire “platform” of the person you voted for is acceptable but if you keep silent, it gives the appearance of belief.

You might not believe it’s okay that one person loses his job over a video about the treatment of women and the other gets elected President, but if you keep silent, it gives the appearance of belief.

You might not like the way someone expresses their concern over an issue but at least you know what they believe.   If you’re silent, you are giving others the ability to “think” they know what you believe.  That can lead to people assuming that because you like __________ policy that the President Elect is proposing and are silent about the other policies that you don’t like, you are perceived to be in agreement with those policies.

I know (or at least I hope) that the percentage of people from “the church” who believe all of the policies and racial and immigration and registration proposals of the new administration is very small.   But if those who voted for the new administration because they believed in one thing, now see something they don’t believe is right, they can not, they must not stay silent.

Because silence is the appearance of belief.   If you are silent about the staffing choices that are being made, it appears that you believe they are okay.

If you are silent about conflict of interest issues that have come up already, then it appears you don’t think they are a problem.

If you are silent about the dramatic increase in hate crimes since November 8, then it appears that you believe it isn’t a problem.

Silence is not golden.   Not to those who fear that the coming changes in the US government are potentially devastating to them and their families.

S = B + AB

Speak up about the things you see that are wrong.