Sunday, October 25, 2020

Together We Can Get Through This...We Can Do Anything

I have recently been listening to a playlist of BTS group and member collaboration songs from over the years. For a good overview, Michele Mendez recently wrote All Of BTS' Collaboration Songs Prove They Can Tackle Any Musical Genre in Elite Daily and included links and short descriptions of the top 20. I picture everyone involved in these projects as learning from each other and growing to become both better artists and people.

That’s the hope and potential available, anyway.

RM’s late 2017 collaboration Champion with Fall Out Boy has struck me hard lately. I touched briefly on my appreciation for his Wale one that year in When’s it Gonna Change? Right Now. I never explored Champion but I should have. They relate: cynicism, disillusionment, hope, and self-affirmation to build something new are all mixed up in both these songs.

Along with one overriding truth: relying on each other will benefit us all.

This fact is especially poignant in 2020 as we are mired in the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic. Can we all be “champions” by getting through this?

For me, “Champion” started as a strongly angry, angst-ridden rock tune that grew with the additional lyrics by RM and the influx of electronic-pop and rap elements. The flesh RM adds to the body of the song gives more depth to the reasons why there are both such anger and such determination to overcome it.

RM raps:

Have you ever felt how hard it is to be an anybody
To be living, to be breathing, not choosing a dead body
Remember, the man told me that this life is a party
Yeah, all the glory's so short you should put away the garbages
Normal ain't normal, ordinary is a luxury
People say "Woo, pessimism" what the other mean?
If you wanna understand, you stand under
This shit is vital, respect to the mothers and fathers
What's wrong with the life of a passenger
If somebody gotta be, then I'mma be the messenger
I'm just too young, don't know what to believe in
But too young, you know, not to be living
I will stay, I will wait and I'll fight like a king
Even though I can forever ever be a king
I will marry this goddamn world, by my own
And put myself on a goddamn ring

He lists the hardships bluntly: that youth or lack of connections and power can make success seem impossible, but he’s willing to try hard and put the ring of success on himself by getting himself in the ring to fight.

Patrick Stump sings:

And I'm back with a madness
I'm a champion of the people who don't believe in champions
I got nothing but dreams inside
I got nothing but dreams

To me, he’s saying that even if the people have given up hope in champions because of hardships, the concept of and truth that a “Champion” exists is not necessarily lost just because people don’t believe. There are those who can fulfill that role if they act on the dreams they have inside. What a message for 2020!

I also love how the song plays with the concept of defining the term “champion”. RM describes 3 levels of existence:

“Somebody” is those we normally look up to but are they worthy of that respect?
“Anybody” is a person living the best they can, so perhaps truly worthy of respect.
“Dead body” is a person dead on the inside, who’s truly pitiful.

I have felt at times in my life that if I didn’t have a fire inside me telling me things are wrong and could be better, life would be easier. I have felt that if I were able to just put my head down and work within the system I find myself, I could be really successful- a champion of some sort. I haven’t been able to do that because making myself into someone else's image has made me feel dead inside. 

This what I think of when Patrick sings:

got rage every day, on the inside
The only thing I do is sit around and kill time
I'm trying to blow out the pilot light, I'm trying to blow out the light

To me, the pilot light is that inner voice telling me to try to fix things that cause the rage. If he or I could snuff it out, we’d have less internal conflict and just do what’s expected. Others have interpreted that differently. That inner turmoil of rage at the status quo and the desire to not feel compelled to try to fix it is summed up in his next lines:

I'm just young enough to still believe, still believe
But young enough not to know what to believe in
Young enough not to know what to believe

To me, he’s saying he KNOWS there’s a way- a better way. He KNOWS there’s a chance for something good- something better. There’s just so much fear and resistance out there and perhaps inside too, he doesn’t know if he has the strength to try.

BUT...if he does. If I do. If WE do...

If I can live through this
If I can live through this
If I can live through this

I can do anything

That’s why this song is speaking to me now. 2020 is a cliff in so many ways. So many things could happen as a result of what we choose to do.

Public health, social justice, civil rights, education, health care, mental health care, environment, gun control, economic development…what if we reach out to one another across the country and around the globe like these artists who collaborate to build bigger and better art?

If we can live through this
If we can live through this
If we can live through this

We can do anything

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Time Will Tell: Two Months and 100 Deaths


How are you?

It’s a simple question. And yet, if we really decide to unbox it, we could unleash floodgates of emotions and thoughts.

I’ve taken to asking the boys this question at the daily stand-up meetings we started doing this month. Hubby recommended we do it as a way to encourage them to stay on top of their school responsibilities. I may start officially speaking up, too. We all should be willing and able to say what we’ve accomplished, what we plan on doing tomorrow, where we see obstacles and worries.

What’s done? What do you see up ahead?

I wrote in this blog in August about the projections being made in regards to the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the illness it causes, COVID-19. Another month in, it’s time to look at it again.

On 8/14, I said we had 64 dead, a 14-day positive testing rate of 11%, and 148 facilities-based investigations. On 9/14, we had 85 dead, a 14-day positive testing rate of 8%, and 123 facilities-based investigations. Here as of 10/14, we have 100 dead.

I said 2 months ago that a quarter of our total losses of life had occurred in the previous 30 days. I called that stunning. Well, we’re now at 36% of all loss of life having been AFTER I said that. 

What do you need help on?

Stunning, indeed. What’s even more stunning is that we have no gameplan. I watched parts of a Waukesha School District board meeting last night and several members asked to establish some rules for the district if the County was not providing them. The state legislature has unsuccessfully pushed back against Governor Evers’s mask mandate and successfully against his public gatherings restrictions. Yet they have not themselves provided leadership to encourage people, to cultivate helpful behaviors, or to provide gateways that will allow us to control the spread of this virus. They are encouraging businesses to maximize their incomes now, for citizens to “live our lives now”, heedless to the health care and life costs that will result for us down the road.

They are being reckless and destructive. I state here and now that people who are running businesses and laughing at containment measures are cushioning their own wallets now to the long term detriment of the rest of us. The politicians encouraging them are guilty of supporting threats to public health. The increased infection rates are leading to increased expenses for health care and lost wages for both the customers and the public at large.

Do you have any shout-outs for appreciation?

I have said before I’m grateful for the school district for posting their positives and quarantines. Right now, we have 21 people positive and 278 in quarantine where those numbers were 10 and 198 a month ago. Everyone should be doing this data tracking. Some claim we’re violating HIPAA with this information. It’s clear our understanding of and use of these regulations need to be revisited in light of public health crises like this pandemic. This is a situation where one’s health is connected to everyone else’s and we should be behaving as such.

In connection to that, the Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Koch, discussed how test results and contact tracing have been slowed and that can lead to control problems. He also suggested that community buy-in is needed because behaviors outside of school are driving infections. Again, we rise or fall together. Public health is an issue for all of us.

What roadblocks do you see?

Our positive rate per 100,000 population has gone from 133.7 on 9/10 to 483.6 as of 10/15 and for the overall state, it’s 627.9. As I pointed out last month, we were 34 points away from being in a lower category of risk. Now, look at us.

One could argue, I suppose, that it’s not worth society’s efforts to avoid a few deaths. That the disruptions would be too great. However, as I see some industries evolving to adapt to different norms, I question that fatalistic perspective. In addition, there is research showing possible links to long-term health problems in those who have gone through COVID-19 infections. Our societies may be on decades-long hooks in terms of direct costs and losses to inputs to society from these infections.

IHME predicted 3,708 deaths will have occurred in Wisconsin as of 12/1. In September we were at 1,210, up 185 since 8/14. Now we’re at 1,536, up 326. The current growth rates still do not indicate we’ll be at the IHME prediction, but the rate of increase is quickening. My extremely rough, straight-line chart points toward 1,830 (126 in Waukesha County) by mid-December. 

What’s next?

A month from now, the election will have come and gone. I hope we know who will be leading us. I hope there’s real change and fresh energy coming into play. I hope we have a plan and a sense of responsibility and renewed understanding that we all need to continue our involvement.

I will work on my physical well-being. I will focus on the daily care of my body, mind, and spirit. I will look for opportunities to connect with and support others. 

I wish you the best in the days ahead. As others have suggested, drink plenty of water, exercise, eat well, and sleep. Also, I hope you can surround yourself with spirits who lift you as you work forward. We need boosts from others. We need to boost each other.