on the back burner
By Brittany Sweeney-Lawson
“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.”
― Cormac McCarthy
Not for nothing is one of my favorite songs, “Break my Stride.” I love how upbeat Matthew Wilder is while crooning that, in spite of all life’s unpleasant twists and turns, he’s “got to keep on mooo-vin’.”
I’m probably drawn to this sort of resilience because I don’t feel like I come by it naturally myself. Ever since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, it seems the world has been devolving more and more into chaos on the daily. On top of my own frustrations with having family graduations, work events, and personal trips canceled, I’ve watched my friends struggle with more pressing issues, such as completely abandoning their dream weddings, going to prenatal appointments without their partners, and struggling to obtain necessary supplies from sold-out stores. I can’t even imagine the added layer of worry for those in high-risk groups who are doing their best to stay healthy and well during these unfamiliar times.
In other words, we’ve had to put a whole lot of our lives on the back burner, keeping everything warm and ready for that longed-for day when we can proceed once more with feasting.
This is upsetting. This is annoying. This is necessary. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has predicted as many as 200,000 people could die in the U.S. alone as a result of COVID-19. It is up to us as responsible citizens to do our part to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. We must help and care for each other, now more than ever, by surrendering some of our wants and comforts for a season to benefit the greater good.
Knowing what we must do is essential, but it doesn’t make it easy. It adds insult to injury to realize issues that should be at the forefront of our thoughts (I’m looking at you, 2020 presidential and senate elections), get crammed into the back of an already overflowing stove top. It seems like we scarcely had time to recover from the whiplash of BYU’s Honor Code rule reversal train wreck before the pandemic pandemonium broke loose. The last article about it I could find dates back to the first week of this month.
In case you missed it, on February 19, 2020, BYU removed language from it’s Honor Code that expressively forbid “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feeling” on its campus. This was a relief to several LGBTQIA BYU students and their families alike; so much so, that many openly came out both at school and on social media. Fast forward two weeks later, and the LDS Church Education System (CES), produced a “clarifying” letter that basically stated demonstrations of same-sex love and affection are not compatible with church teachings, and therefore, not permissible by the Honor Code. Did I mention this letter came TWO WEEKS after the initial restrictive language had been removed? What the actual fuck?! Read the article here:
My heart aches for the students who thought they were allowed to finally be themselves and love whom they love on their college campus, only to have the rug pulled out from under them. I’m pissed that equality was temporarily and cruelly dangled in front of them like a carrot. But mostly, I’m frustrated this is one of many worthwhile causes that has been tabled while we figure out how to stop a dangerous, novel virus.
There’s not a lot we can do about COVID-19, other than slow its spread by following the CDC’s guidelines. We also can’t do much about how we currently find ourselves situated towards the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid. But the human spirit is indomitable, and much like John McClane, it doesn’t die easy. We will pull ourselves up from the bottom, until we reach the top of that pyramid again, where we can focus on self and societal actualization by moving the needle of morality ever-nearer to kindness, acceptance, and spiritual healing.
Image from geopolicraticus.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/maslow-hierarchy.png
Until that day comes, we must keep a flame burning, however small it may seem, as an inspiration for the present, and a determination for the future. Though it may feel like our hopes have been halted, and our progress put on hold, the back burner isn’t a final destination– it’s a moment in time. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other as best we can in the meantime, so we come back brighter and more fiery than ever.
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