July 6, 2020 – An Untold Grief

in the words of frederick douglass

On July 5, 1852 Frederick Douglass delivered a speech in Rochester, New York titled What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? This year National Public Radio gathered several descendants of Frederick Douglass and asked them to read excerpts of his famous speech. Below the video you can download an abridged version of the speech.

Yesterday, in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 2020, a statue of Douglass commemorating the speech was ripped off its pedestal.

The problem with statues is that they are never an adequate representation of the person they are intended to memorialize. A statue tends to hide the facts of the person’s life and words – whether good, bad, or just plain ugly. Words must be tested by deeds over time, but they are still a better memorial than any inanimate object.


An untold Grief

An untold grief hangs in the air. We inhale it even as we try to avoid inhaling the Novel Coranavirus. There is no mask known to protect us from it. It surrounds us, it permeates us, and it defines us in this moment. A grief that cannot be expressed with words – an untold grief – is the most painful of all.

The untold grief is not the same for everyone.

  • For some it is the grief of both individual and systemtic oppression and victimization at the hands of the majority.
  • For some it is the grief of losing a loved one to an endless war in far off lands, especially now that it seems a bounty may have been placed on their lives while our country’s leaders failed to notice or whose silence was complicity.
  • For some it is the grief of losing someone to COVID-19 compounded by the grief of not being allowed to be present and to say good-bye.
  • For some it is the grief of so many losses during the pandemic – a social life, a job or career, simple human contact.
  • For some it is the grief of watching the American ideals of freedom, justice, and equality subverted by their perverse articulation by Trump.

Lincoln affirmed the ideals of America — freedom, justice, equality for all — and the personal ideals of honesty, integrity, command of facts, common sense and service to a greater good.

Dan Rodricks, American Ideal: What We Were Told, What We Learned, Why We Vote, November 5, 2018
The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1893

While the origins and causes of our untold grief may be different, it is a collective grief that can only be expressed in a collective scream. I believe this is what I was hearing throughout the holiday weekend. I could hear it over the very few celebrations I witnessed around our home, the fireworks, the flyovers, and the hateful rhetoric of Trump. Our collective scream is low and barely audible but it is growing. Soon it will be a deafening roar and there will be no way to silence it, placate it, or ignore it.

What will that sound like? What will it mean? I wish I knew. Do you know?


the view from jeff

Jeff Explains: Had a bunch of online meetings and classes today. Didn’t feel like wearing my designated zoom shirt… but also didn’t want to iron a new shirt. I remember my Grandpa had a few of those fake turtleneck units that you tuck under your shirt!! Wish I had a couple myself.

chickenman – episode 76

Chickenman offers assistance to a swimmer, who is en route to Paris, on his Trans-Atlantic flight.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

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