We can restart from the pandemic to create a more equitable community.
The COVID-19 pandemic and all the economic and social turbulence of the recent past has exposed the pervasive inequality that exists in American society. Evidence of it is everywhere, even here in our own Takoma Park and Long Branch communities. Although the pandemic has affected everyone, for many of the less privileged it has shown up more harshly in the form of unemployment, food insecurity, the prospect of eviction, and a higher probability of exposure and illness.
The pandemic has caused enormous social and economic disruption. Many of the attitudes, and social practices from before the pandemic, have been curtailed or exposed as harmful. Many national and local institutions are challenged and may not survive the pandemic and its aftermath. We have been forced to pause. We have an opportunity to contemplate the gross inequalities and racial injustices and rethink what has been.
There is a part of all of us that just wants to go back to the way things were, but that is impossible and unwise. Our past attitudes, practices, and social structure are fraught with danger and harm. Our environment has changed, and as Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change, that lives within the available means and works co-operatively against common threats.”
Now is the time for us to use our available means and work cooperatively. Now, as we begin the process of reopening and recognizing the loss of much of what has been, we can reconstitute our world differently. We can make a fresh start, as we face threatening biological, social and economic challenges.
A good place to start is in the community where we live. The diversity of the Takoma Park and Long Branch communities make it a prime place to build equity by using our means and working cooperatively to create a community that works for everyone. If we create well-connected, inclusive communities that sustainably produce abundant resources and wealth and break down the barriers that keep people separate and unequal, then we will be creating an adaptive response to our changing environment where all can thrive.
CHEER is committed to working cooperatively and inclusively through this adaptative process to formulate and fulfill a long-term vision of a healthy thriving community.