Jun 20 , 2020
I’ve Found a Problem that Tea Doesn’t Solve.
It’s been said that tea makes life better. I’ve been known to say that myself – after a stressful day at work, during a stressful day at work, in a hospital waiting room, at the end of a long journey when you’ve finally reached your destination, during said long journey. Let’s face it, waking up knowing that I’ll have the pleasure of enjoying a refreshing cup of green tea after I make my way to the kitchen has given me plenty of reason to get out of bed in the morning. My green tea reserve is getting me through this coronavirus quarantine with some degree of solace.
Sure, I'm experiencing the mental challenges that come with this isolation we're all in, and I know that I'm among the privileged ones: I have a safe home, white skin, an insulated work-from-home job.
But things are getting gritty outside
I know there are people who don't have the luxury of steeping fine green tea. Even if they did, there come times when even the purest cup of sweet savory Sencha does not take the sting away. Like when ...
... When you’ve survived Covid and step outside your front door for the first time after months of home quarantine to find your garage door graffitied with racial slurs. No, in that moment not even the sweetest cherry Sencha green tea will ease the sting for this interracial couple of 55 years. This loving couple has built and educated their family and created a good life for themselves, only to find this insult at their own home. It just won’t make it better. Their neighbors showing up to repaint the Badey’s garage door is an act of pure loving kindness and solidarity. Yet the Badeys won’t be able to un-see what they saw when re-entering the world post-quarantine.
... When you live in Hong Kong and you're about to see the era of freedom and prosperity you’ve been living in come to a screeching halt, not even the best China green tea is the last thing you’re going to want in your mouth. Hong Kong’s economic freedom score is 1, making its economy the 2nd freest in the 2020 Index. Contrast this with China at a 59.5 freedom index. And this is only economic freedom we’re talking about.
Editor's note: the Hong Kong page has since been removed from the Index of Economic Freedom website, but you can view an archived snapshot of Hong Kong's #2 rank on June 2020.
... When you're protesting peacefully but violate curfew and are hemmed in by police forces at dead-end Swann Street in Washington DC. In a spontaneous act of caring and bravery, resident Rahul Dubey did the only thing he could to shield them from pepper spray and arrest. And it wasn’t brew green tea (that I know of anyway). He flung open his front door and yelled, “Come in. Get in the house, get in the house!" About 70 protestors flooded through his front door and stayed there until 6am when the curfew lifted. Approximately 300 curfew violation arrests were made in DC that night, nearly 2/3 of which were in the area of Swann Street NW.
When violent, destructive images and reports flood our news feeds, our minds, and the street we are walking on, it can be hard to see the light through the hurt.
For me, this small excerpt from Dr. Maya Angelou's poem bridges that dark gap of loneliness and togetherness.
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone
Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
and I can hear the moon
Because nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone
Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone.
Listen to a touching read of her full poem Alone Together – an intimate portrait of a world in lockdown, read by Dr. Maya Angelou's son Guy Johnson.
Are we evolving?
Yes, we are evolving. Is it slow? Yes, it is painfully slow.
Just as the Stonewall Riots and demonstrations in 1969 gave way to the colorful and expressive first official gay pride parade in NYC the following year, then later led to June being designated LGBT Pride Month, and eventually (after 50 years) led to a formal apology by the New York Police Department for the role they played in these riots and the discriminatory laws that targeted gay people—we can hope that empathy and compassion continue to surface and prevail. One person at a time, one hand-holding conversation at a time.
I send love to anyone who knew and loved George Floyd, to anyone who is feeling the trauma of his loss. If you’re someone who's ever been hurt by racism, intentional or otherwise, I send light and love to you today.