I hate to compare mass incarcerations with the coronavirus, but there are stark similarities. Both destroy lives, decimate communities, confine human beings to closed quarters, spark mental health crises. They propagate exponentially because of arrogance, capitalistic greed, and indifference from corporate and government officials, and are at their highest rates in the United States of America. And, yes, they both disproportionately impact marginalized communities of poor and colored people.
They are both man-made illnesses, one social and one respiratory. One intentional and the other inadvertent (presumably). Ironically, one could be cured by mere words and/or legislation, while simultaneously lowering the chances of vulnerable people being infected with the other. But that would require our leaders to overcome the very quirk that allowed both situations to escalate into conflagration: valuing profit over the lives of people.
They both can compel a close-minded person to find entertainment in books, TV shows, and activities they would have never considered before.
They spur men into taking time out and doing a little introspection, sometimes forcing even the most stubborn to drop to his knees and submit to a higher power.
If embraced and addressed properly, those affected can come out of both crises more profound and spiritually-aware.
Some don’t believe either situation is a humanitarian crisis –neither mass incarceration nor the coronavirus pandemic. Prisons aren’t overpopulated, they say, there should more of “those” people in prison. It’s a poor people and colored folk problem – Stop breaking the law, others say. It’s a Chinese virus, our president claimed. And as I sit here typing this message, there’s a prison guard with a mouth full of tobacco staring up at the TV (CNN), vociferously claiming the numbers are false, and that it is all “fake news” propaganda to subvert President Trump. Never mind what the doctors say, coronavirus is no worse than the flu, he opines. That’s why the doctors are doctors and he a correctional officer. I’ll consider the advice of the former.