Sunday, July 26, 2020

Five Levels of Vulnerability

I experienced my first level of vulnerability in March of 2020 during COVID 19 while turning 75 years old. It was a Personal Vulnerability. Not only was 75 years old a difficult milestone, but 75 years old during a pandemic, in which I chose self-quarantine to protect myself from the virus made it more difficult. I felt my age, I felt young of mind but old of body, my mortality became more apparent.

The next level of vulnerability arrived recently in the form of Species Vulnerability. With so many people, especially health compromised and older people becoming ill, ending up with life-threatening difficulties for the rest of their life, or dying based on viral droplets that could be spread by someone infected and ill or by an infected asymptomatic carrier, was frightening.

The fact that this interloper was doing its work around the world was frightening. Hearing of hospitals running out of tens of thousands of beds for those infected and hearing of thousands of people dying from it in a day was frightening. Hearing about approximately 16 million COVID 19 cases around the world and close to 700 thousand deaths is mind-boggling!

Then came the next level, Cultural Vulnerability. Many people could not go to work or had to figure out how to do so from home. Parents had nowhere to send their children while they worked. Kids no longer had schools to attend or summer activities in which to partake, like swimming pools or day camps.

Funerals and religious services could no longer be attended. Visiting ill or dying relatives in the hospital longer no longer permitted. No longer could I visit with friends, stop for a friendly chat in the condo elevator lobby, go out to dinner with a group. No longer was I able to comfortably shop for groceries. Birthdays, weddings, and funerals could no longer be celebrated with family.

Theater and entertainment as we knew it ended: legitimate theater and musicals were closed, concerts and meetings were canceled. Travel and vacations were curtailed then canceled. I did not mind the isolation of my condo, it felt more like personal solitude, but my heart was heavy for those less fortunate than I, those suffering job loss, those who had to work anyway through these dangerous times, and those who did not have homes in which to shelter,

Societal Vulnerability struck when so many poor, homeless, Latinx, and Black people seemed to be carrying more than their share of COVID 19 and because I was a White, Male, Older Citizen I was "entitled" and part of the problem! Rioting over police brutality towards Blacks and Latinx increased and took place not only in the US but across the world.

Most recently, in the last few days actually, for me it seems that Democracy Vulnerability has struck. While the Trump Administration has been horrible in so many ways from day one of the president's inauguration, he slowly has undermined all the progress the U.S. had made over the years in so many areas. His lies, cheating, misogyny, racism, homophobia, greed, vanity, etc became the new norm. His approach to government has led to violence, hatred towards others, and stirring up antiblack and antisemitism and antiimmigration.

Anything that does not report him in a good light is "Fake News." His approach to leadership is one of "Gaslighting" and confusing issues. He seemed to appoint people to each important government post, who in the past opposed the very work that the post demands. In fact, many of these appointees are in effect dismantling the office of which they are in charge.

Now he is sending government troops to cities to quell rioting in ways that resemble the "Secret Police" of Hitler. The result of this action has caused more disturbances which will necessitate sending more troops. The use of war type tactics against the people who are demonstrating is unforgivable. The blurring of the roles of police from protection to suppressing freedom of speech is frightening.

His supporting voter suppression, fighting against voting by mail, and saying he will not leave office if not elected adds to anarchy. Will he attempt to cancel elections "due to COVID 19?" Is he taking advantage of the disturbances to create a police state, a military state?

While most of this horrible situation is blamed on Trump, it is bigger than the man. There are so many others who are behind his frightening leadership. We know that Black, poverty, and diversity issues have been with us for a long time. Perhaps the one thing the Trump Administration has done is made the actions of government and not caring about these issues, more transparent. It seems to have divided the population in their beliefs.

It seems that the U.S. in reality is based on power and greed and does not exist for the well being of its citizens. We are also seeing many other countries in the world in this new light of power, control, and greed. The US is no longer and hasn't been for a while, the idyllic country leading the way for the world.

All of this saddens me, makes me feel vulnerable on so many levels, and causes me to wonder what will be the future of life in the U.S., in the world.


  1. So much of your posting mirrors my internal conversations. I do feel privileged and realize that even though the isolation and loss of some of my favorite activities has been difficult, I don't have to fear that I won't have food or shelter. I also have found ways to keep myself intellectually challenged and stimulated, and have thought a great deal about what really matters to me. In some ways, having this time to reflect has helped me to know what is really important to me. Thank you for sharing your experience.


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