The plea to the world’s leaders not to go back to “normal” after COVID-19 is going unheard.
What about the cry that “Black Lives Matter”? Will that also fade away into the world’s distant memory? “People of colour” have been crying all around the world for generations.
Or will it be different this time? Is there any hope?
The spread of Coronavirus appears to be reducing. Countries are starting to come out of lockdown and open up again. The Open Letter I published on Avaaz on 20th May has failed to take off. The world’s leaders are getting us back to “normal”, apparently without making any significant changes. It’s easier and more comfortable for the privileged and powerful to stay as they are. The poem I wrote on 20th April and developed in May has gone unheard…….
We mustn’t go back to our life as we knew it.
But why ever not, if we’re doing all right?
Because it’s been hurting our world and most people,
denying the world’s children the life they deserve.
For if now we drift back, to the old status quo,
we’ll have lost this great chance for a needed new start.
So come and speak out, we can all do much better,
If we build up momentum by joining together.
But how is it possible, this momentum for change?
Let’s push the great boulder uphill with each other,
‘til at last we succeed in reaching the height
where the vista revealed will give us clear sight.
Too much is at stake for us to not even try.
When we’ve got it up high, then the boulder will start
to roll down the slope, all the way down below
due to the momentum which together we’ve built.
No one can do this all on their own,
nor any country can go it alone.
Nor can we push the boulder up high
by sitting below, doing nothing but sigh.
While COVID the virus puts our lives onto hold,
together, right now, for the sake of the world,
we can all make a start, wherever we are.
We must all add our voices, whoever we are.
For our leaders must hear: “Hurry now to New York”.
Leave behind all your wars, with humility come talk.
Give way to each other, agree common goals
to give the world’s children new hope for their future.
There’s no time to be wasted, it can’t be delayed.
So many are suff’ring, crying out to us all.
Let’s build up momentum, ‘cos we’re desp’rate for change.
But without all your help, our leaders won’t hear.
Millions around the world have watched in horror and despair as George Floyd, a black man in the USA, was deliberately killed on 25th May 2020 by police in Minneapolis.
He was not sentenced to death by any justice system – only by his skin colour (which is only skin-deep).
The world has now, rightly, shifted its focus: “BLACK LIVES MATTER”, including the disproportionate number who have been killed by COVID.
Will this cry, “Black lives matter”, also go unheard as everything slips back to “normal”? Will “people of colour” all over the world continue to be abused and marginalised, rejected and subjected? Or is this crisis and campaign going to be different? Will the world’s leaders at last take this new cry seriously?
It will require many of the same radical changes I was longing for after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Those of us who are privileged and in control will have to change if the communities and populations whom we have pushed to the margins by our policies and priorities are to be valued and brought into the centre to share the same rights and opportunities. The only way there will be enough to share equally is for the privileged to “live more simply that others may simply live”.
There has to be a seismic shift.
The ordinary people of the world are crying out to those who have power and privilege.
Will we be heard this time?
Or will the lives and deaths of billions on the margins be counted as waste?
Do Black Lives really matter?
Do they matter enough for the privileged to give up our status and way of life?
Who is going to commute their death sentence so that they can live their lives?