Prof. Gene Nichol (with help from Bob Dylan) neatly sums up the current crisis

Be sure to check out Prof. Gene Nichol’s sobering and on-the-money summation of the current crisis in America in today’s lead op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer. In “The hard rain is fallin’ on us now,” Nichol explains how the pandemic combined with the incompetent/nonexistent leadership of the national government are serving to dramatically worsen the dire inequities and injustices that were already plaguing America.

As he puts it:

“An economic crisis places our intense fissures of polarization in sharp and inescapable relief. An astonishing percentage of the nation is unemployed – leaving families resource-less, frustrated, and riven with fear. Already-tragic levels of hunger and poverty explode; while the wealthiest secure even greater measures of public largess from plutocratic politicians. Future prospects for many are diminished, perhaps permanently. The bottom half in the richest nation on earth faces soaring financial hardship.

And finally, our yawning racial disparities and oppression not only deny the full dignity and humanity of millions of our sisters and brothers, but are pervasively displayed in ways that humans of even modest conscience, much less belief in our national mission, cannot longer ignore. Brutal murder by government officers – of our members, in our names – demands more than reform. And it becomes impossible to deny that police abuse is merely the most irrefutably visible tip of a massive and historically imposed iceberg of racial subordination. A century and a half after our Constitution promised “equal protection of the laws”, we’ve yet to show, as Dr. King put it, that we’ll “be true to what (we) put on paper.”

But Nichol appears to still have some hope. As he notes with approval, a growing movement — particularly of young people — has taken to the streets in recent weeks, saying in effect “We’ll place our lives on the line, here and now, to end the hypocrisy and subordination that dominates us.”
Nichol then closes with some Bob Dylan lyrics that were penned during another era in which young people took to the streets to help take back their country. As Dylan put it in “A hard rain’s a-gonna’ fall”:

I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warning
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I walked to the depths of the deepest dark forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where pellets of poison are flooding their waters
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
It’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall.’

Nichol is right. The hard rain is falling right now. As the young people are showing us, it’s time to get on our rain coats and boots and get to work on a much better shelter.

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