Not to be taken for granted anymore

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/15/20

There are many things I’ve take for granted, I understand more keenly now, through the lens of current events.

It’s a much longer list than I probably even presently realize.

The absurdity …

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Not to be taken for granted anymore

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There are many things I’ve take for granted, I understand more keenly now, through the lens of current events.

It’s a much longer list than I probably even presently realize.

The absurdity of treasures that 2020 has gifted to date — 2020 itself is the gift that keeps on giving — has made me aware of many.

For weeks now, I’ve not — nobody has! — experienced a trip to the grocery store that hasn’t felt dangerous and clandestine, executed with careful preparation and planning, and at great risk. I miss running into a grocery store for a quick purchase — or lingering for a leisurely experience if I want — without fear of my life and yours. I’ve taken the grocery stores — and the entire supply chains that stock them — for granted.

When I needed a document notarized, arranging this otherwise routine and simple procedure a few weeks ago proved, as many things these days, a bit more challenging than normal. After chasing a few dead ends in my search for a notary, I found one and began to make plans. COVID turned the everyday process — literally, business as usual — into a cloak and dagger-like experience, complete with masks and many machinations aforethought. It’s not just notaries I took for granted, though of course I did; it’s all the “business as usual.”

And that includes Mother’s Day.

I don’t mean I took my mother for granted, heavens no! But the holiday? I was always there with her to celebrate — just being there sincerely meant the most to her — and always bearing flowers and a card and a gift. And we’d take her out to lunch, or cook hamburgers, or whatever she wanted. But if I said I much marked the occasion of Mother’s Day with deep reflection on motherhood, I’d be stretching the truth.

This Mother’s Day, the first without my mine, I expected would be tough, and it was. I’ve thought about her every day since her death in March, and I’ve missed her in ways I didn’t anticipate. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny; but a sad day, too.

It was, I know, a sad day for many people — certainly a decidedly different Mother’s Day experience during this time of so many challenges.

Another “business as usual” item I’ve taken for granted are the walks my wife and I enjoy around our neighborhood. We’ve been doing a lot more walking lately, like a lot of people pent up these past weeks at home.

Our neighborhood, I’m lucky to be able to say, is nice for walking, with light residential traffic and a mix of terrain; and the figure-8 road pattern, if you choose it, when walked in its entirety, is exactly a mile, so it’s easy to keep up with progress.

I know, as I said, that we’re lucky to have a nice place to walk.

But I know too that I’ve largely take it for granted — adding it to the list now — that I have the confidence that I can go for a walk anywhere I could conceivably want to go for a walk and because the skin covering my bones and innards is white I enjoy a lower risk of getting shot and killed than someone — Ahmaud Arbery, for example, who was ambushed, shot and killed while jogging in Georgia — whose skin is black.

Naively, I used to take it for granted that everybody — each of us bleeds red, after all — had that same privilege. I knew about hate and bigotry, naturally. But I think I took it for granted that we’d evolved, at least further than we certainly have.

POLITICO Magazine, presenting its “Domestic Threat Assessment” of “major threats that scientists and national security officials worry about currently that are real, identifiable and stand a chance that is more likely than not of occurring — at some scale, ranging from mild to catastrophic — in the next five to 50 years,” topping the list is “globalization of white supremacy.”

A few years ago, back when I was taking a lot more things for granted — including that we’d evolved further and better than that — I would have had trouble believing such a threat could be so serious beyond a crackpot few.

One thing I don’t take for granted is that we have to accept this outcome.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know racism is wrong and doesn’t get us anywhere good. It’s the antithesis of the United States that Thomas Jefferson surely envisioned in 1776 when he penned in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”

Nobody should take those words for granted.


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