By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
While the news about the coronavirus continues to make news, I find myself wondering what “the least of these,” including the working poor, and those who have no jobs, are going to fare.
In this, the wealthiest country in the world, 53% of all working people live paycheck to paycheck. Sixty-two percent of all working people do not have enough in savings to sustain them for three months, and for many of those, missing just one paycheck can throw their financial lives into complete chaos. Many of the underemployed do not have paid sick time and simply cannot afford to take a day off, not even for illness or suspected illness. For many of our hardest and yet underpaid workers, they face a two-fold crisis: one being illness and the other, economic hardship.
If people in low-paying jobs are feeling ill but are pushing themselves to go to work (they cannot afford to stay home if they feel sick; if they don’t work, they don’t get paid) they are unwittingly coming agents of contagion. The people with whom they come in contact will be infected. If their children have been infected already, they face the horrible dilemma of not only trying to stay employed so they can pay their bills but also of finding a way to get their children treated or, if their children are sick but their daycare facilities are shut down in quarantine, of finding someone to take care of them.
These are real-life issues and problems, which we do not often think about. “The least of these” carry our economy; the corporations they work for grow more and more wealthy off the sweat of the brows of these unappreciated and too often unnoticed people. They are the ones who give us our French fries and early morning coffee; they are the ones who pick our avocados and strawberries, they are the ones who take care of our elderly parents and disabled friends and family members. Yet, they remain some of the most unappreciated and ignored people in our society.
I cringed as I realized that the president of this nation has shown his concern is more with the status of the stock market than with the people of this country. His telling his “base” that the news about the virus is a hoax, and that it will disappear was negligent. His claim that the “outbreak” of the coronavirus was caused by Democrats who want him to lose the election, as reported by the New York Times, was as bizarre as it was self-serving and paranoid. Defense of his outrageous statements by Vice President Pence, Sen. Lindsay Graham and Steve Bannon in USA Today and ABC News indicated how deep the divide is between decency and indecency in this administration.
Meanwhile, the threat of a pandemic continues to loom and while “the least of these” are most vulnerable, a huge number of Americans stand to be infected. The president and his friends are ignoring history and discounting the validity of science. They are either not aware of or do not care about what happened to literally millions of people during the 1918 flu pandemic, according to The Washington Post. They have not reined in people like Rush Limbaugh, who have downplayed the importance of what is going on and the risks we face, as noted by The New York Times.
The virus isn’t going away any time soon. Friends of Trump, members of his base, and so many of “the least of these” will unduly suffer because this nation and its president did not prepare for a catastrophe of this magnitude. They will suffer as the president frets about “the left” working to undo him, not realizing that his paranoia and his narcissism are undoing him all on their own – at the expense of those who keep this country economically afloat and “great.”
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.