Coronavirus Protests: Walk A Mile In Everyone’s Shoes

“Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” Mary Lathrap, 1895

You stumble through the hospital’s halls, the Hippocratic Oath burned in mind,

Determined to stem the tide of a disease which respects not life.

You lack masks, testing and ventilators. Reprieve does not come.

Despite your best efforts, despite 80 hour weeks, not all can be saved.

Life leaves some waiting in the halls.

Before they enter the room. Before treatment even begins.

You watch, powerless, helpless, broken.

You’ve failed, that you’ve done harm, what you are never to do!

But you’ve done more than enough. Rest easy, judge not yourself, knowing

Your touch saves. Your intent matters. Keep on being “The Coronavirus Angels.”

Now you walk neighborhoods, downtowns and countrysides, about to go to work.

You reach for the key. You stop. There’s no reason to go inside.

You peer into the business you call your own. What greets you is a blank stare.

No customers, no workers, no activity. It’s as if all the hard work to create it

Was undone. No-never was. You trudge back to your home.

Hands shaking, palms sweating. Mind wandering, thoughts racing.

Afraid of looking at the numbers. Afraid of answering the phone.

Afraid of pandemic erasing years of hard work in a matter of months.

Poverty is about to knock on your door- and it cannot be turned away.

Dear job, beautiful home and secure life, gone. Who knows if it will return?

In this pandemic, we must walk a mile in everyone’s shoes, not just some.

Doctors, nurses, teachers, restaurateurs, store owners- walk a mile or more

In their shoes. See with their eyes. Feel their experience, taste their pain,

Know their suffering, before you criticize. Only pointing fingers, seeing flaws-

Without walking a mile in their shoes, terrible crisis will be prolonged.

Fear will run abound. Communities will be infected. Trust will be gone.

Walk as many miles in others’ shoes. As often as you can.

Otherwise, one disease will replace another.

Wisconsin again made national news this past Friday with protests in Madison against the extension of Governor Tony Evers’s “Safer At Home” order. Thousands of business owners, workers and supporters came forward to proclaim their pain. As organizer and realtor Bob Tarantino told NBC News, “small businesses are suffering unbelievable financial harm. The kind that they may not recover from.”

While I’ve seen plenty of well-earned admiration for the healthcare sector, I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the protesters on social media and in real life. We must comprehend before we criticize. Walk a mile in their shoes.

Imagine you are a small business owner or employee. Bills need to paid. Money is not coming in.

If you barely survived the first month of “Safer At Home,” how can you survive another? And what if there’s another extension because of another outbreak or lack of testing? What is going to happen to your business, job, home, family and friends?

Your entire way of life has been ripped away. The coronavirus’s effects are real, though they aren’t spread uniformly across the state. However, Gov Evers’s order treaties the state as one entity! That means Milwaukee County, which has 2,629 cases, and my own Winnebago, which has 48, are treated the same. ( DHS Data as of 4/26/20) There has to be some nuance!

Of course, criticism is warranted- many didn’t apply social distancing nor wear masks, which will increase the diseases’s spread and strain the healthcare sector. Some of the rhetoric and signs were ridiculous, such as the references to communism and invoking of “tyranny” as if this is the American Revolution or Civil War.

Some criticism isn’t warranted. Again and again, I see comments like: “Do these people think the government doesn’t care about them? That it wants them to fail?”

Let’s look at this a different way. When I was in college, I took “Women In Politics.” It clearly laid out why its not enough to have male representatives who think they know women’s problems represent them. Have they ever been pregnant? Do they experience periods? Do they have the same fears and anxieties as women do?

Of course not. At some point, no matter how open-minded and good of a listener a male representative is, he doesn’t fully comprehend what women experience, feel and want. (In every walk of life-laughtrack). Ultimately, women need to have to women in power, to adequately represent themselves and get what they want.

The same idea applies with the Safer At Home extension. Gov Evers and his supporters want to help small businesses and their workers. They think they comprehend their pain, taste their suffering and know their wants.

Yet, they aren’t small businesses/workers, so their understanding falls short. Especially if there insulated from the economic fallout, which some are.

As I reported last week, Wisconsin has lost 2 billion in revenue and over 300,000 have lost work in the first month of so of “Stay At Home.” How bad will these numbers get in the next few weeks?

One doesn’t have to be an economist nor a business owner to realize how bad it could get.

How bad it already is for many in the private sector.

How bad it will be.

Never forget Mary Lathrap’s prescient advice.

Easy to understand, yet so hard to live.

To combat the virus, and the fear it creates, we must walk a mile in everyone’s shoes.

Not just some.

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Patrick McCorkle

I am a young professional with keen interests in politics, history, foreign languages and the arts.