Coronavirus In Prison    by    Ruth Utnage

Here in prison we’ve been watching our TV’s and watching this pandemic spread across the world. When we seen Washington state was the breaching point of the United States, it struck a little fear in me. I am worried about my family and friends. I am also concerned about it coming into the prison. But among us inmates a common debate has emerged, why has COVID-19 gotten the reaction it has while say…opioid deaths are still unprecedented?

The spread of COVID-19 has to be addressed and I am heartened to see the serious reaction to something that’s lethal. But why have we as a country united around COVID-19 and not gang violence, prescription drug overdoses, domestic violence, opioid use, teen suicides, or child hunger? The media has made sure that we are prepared as a country to unite with our government and our government has ensured response to the COVID-19 outbreak, so I know its possible to focus on one thing as a country. 350 plus million hearts beating as one is a powerful feeling of connection.

Are we okay with millions of people dying from opioid use because we feel its self-inflicted? I’m going to go ahead and shoot across the bow, are we worried because COVID-19 threatens the safety of our elite whereas drug overdoses and gang violence are more lower-class centric? I’m not saying that’s what it is, but I am saying we should look at it.

Allow me to point our attention to the AIDS crises that took the government over a decade to react to at all. Extreme measures had to be taken to get it considered and even then the government only reacted when they realized that the AIDS crises wasn’t limited to the LGBTQ community. When it came to their front door and friends and family of the elites began to get sick, when it was taking the lives of “innocent” people, people that weren’t LGBTQ, then out got a reaction.

I can’t help but think, what if the country scrambled to support us? 350 million hearts beating as one to create a community of healing around all who are broken. What would that feel like? I bet it would feel like being locked on a hot room with no air until you were just at the point of succumbing to unconsciousness and then suddenly a window opens and a cool breeze revives your soul and spirit.

You could be that cool breeze, our government could be the window. We could all do that, not just you out there, I can do it in here. Be someone’s cool breeze of forgiveness, the window opener. Provide acceptance, patience, and love to someone simply because they are human.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just speaking right to my own broken interior. I will say this though, I am happy to see that we as a countr are capable to move as one united heartbeat in tandem with the entire globe. For once in our civilizations existence we have united towards a common cause.

In that I find inexpressable beauty, what wonder.

What a cool breeze…

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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“A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.” (“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire )

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