Letter from the editor: For What It’s Worth

By Gaige Davila
editor@portisabelsouthpadre.com

We’re wandering in a well-lit room. We being any of us taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. In that well-lit room, there’s an elephant we can see clearly, the gravity of the contemporary world’s first global cataclysm, screaming as we go from the rooms’ four corners: shopping at H-E-B in ill-fitting masks, binge-watching Tiger King, walking outside and tracking everything COVID-19, then repeat ad nauseum. 

That is the best I can describe being under a shelter-in-place order, unable to answer when, or if, culture and society will return to “normal.” Few times has this area collectively double-thought their way through the day, perpetually anxious and calm, pretending we never had the option to eat inside restaurants, cut our hair, lift weights, get tattoos or sit on the beach while thinking about nothing but doing all of those things. 

Four weeks ago, when we could do any of that, seems beyond any measure of cognitive time. This lapse of reason is no longer momentary. That being said, I hope that some facets of that “normal” don’t return.

What I mean is, we now know too much, collectively, to return to the “normal” that has carried the weight of every “that’s just the way it is” ever uttered. We know now, collectively, that we laborers and consumers are powerful. We are especially powerful in communities reliant on hospitality industries, such as South Padre Island, Port Isabel and Laguna Vista, and beyond to Brownsville, San Benito and Harlingen, where school districts, production and retail reign. 

That’s gone now, where many in Cameron County, now unemployed, don’t know if their “normal,” an already strained ability to survive, will return. I hope that “normal” doesn’t return. 

Oppressive debts like student loans, exorbitant rents, health care, registration fees de anything, can be eliminated or, at a minimum, be decreased considerably, we now know. This can and should continue after the rebuilding of our world and collective healing of this global trauma, a trauma further agitated by a presidential administration that seeks only to pacify. 

So I testify, that this collective strain that may be this community’s first universal exile, could have been prevented entirely, by empathy alone, if China’s president, Xi Jinping, or the United States’, Donald Trump, had any. As reported by the Washington Post, both are responsible for a late response to preventing COVID-19’s spread and a failure to mitigate its damage once it did. Never forget that thousands of deaths (or hundreds of thousands) could have been prevented, had they acted early, and if our healthcare industry didn’t rely on profit over its essential function to save lives.

There are still people in this community, county, state, nation, whatever, that are more concerned with the legalities of the restrictions placed upon us rather than the risks associated with not following them. 

The Laguna Madre area may be as escapist as a place can get. People raised here, like myself, those who visit and those who moved here, understand that. I believe this is why it’s so hard for me and many here to accept what’s happening, even as our mobility is capped, our socializing limited and our health, mental and physical, compromised. 

But most of us understand the need to comply, for the greater good, to survive past this aberrant period, knowing that optimism for a post-pandemic future that works for us is the only option. To concede otherwise is to admit there is no reason for anything at all. 

For those who don’t understand, and will scale this hill decrying their individual liberties being infringed, may find comfort in figuratively dying on it, but literally doing so is not worth it. Shift your thinking towards the collective, and hold those who got us here accountable, by any means necessary. 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.portisabelsouthpadre.com/2020/04/13/letter-from-the-editor-for-what-its-worth/

6 comments

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    • Concerned Worker on April 13, 2020 at 7:30 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for your article, Gaige.
    I commonly find myself wondering if others in my community are noticing the way that this crisis has exposed the rotting foundation that we’re so precariously standing on. COVID-19 has laid bare all the failings of the capitalist system and its exploitative nature, and it now falls to the citizen to provide mutual aid and support to those around them. To those using this time to organize and assist others, I salute you and vow
    to help in kind, because our government has shown they will NOT do the same as long as there are people with enough money to impose their will upon this broken, flawed system. You, the reader and all the working class citizens of the lower valley, are what stands between this pandemic and our less fortunate.
    A final thought: Normalcy will never return. It SHOULD never return.
    Normalcy was killing us.

    • Mary E Delgado on April 14, 2020 at 10:13 am
    • Reply

    A politically charged and emotional, but progressive, plea for not returning to “normal”.  America is not perfect, but my “normal” is just fine, thank you.

    • Tim Edwards on April 14, 2020 at 2:13 pm
    • Reply

    I respectfully, yet passionately, disagree. Individual liberty, not the collective, reign supreme in this country, quite literally, by design. To suggest otherwise shows a lack of knowledge surrounding our founding documents, or a wilful disregard for, and an attempt to change them.

  1. excellent – just wrote this on FB
    same vien
    To All the “leaders” of the world and to those that think the pursuit of wealth is all there is – READ THIS! – right, of course, it will make it to the right people – NOT – why? because they are too scared of changing anything as it might cost them a penny.

    I am hoping that something changes as look at the complete and utter shambles we are in now – Nurses and Doctors struggling to find PPE, Education systems that are NOWHERE near fully ONLINE (WTF), Experimental medicine trials that have become necessary as we have neglected our responsibilities to the human race, and to improve ourselves, food rotting in fields while thousands line up to go to food banks as our supply chain is a bloody shambles – except if its connected to profit – Bought any eggs lately?

    And, most of all, to all the people carrying on as normal with no gloves, masks or any thought for the rest of their fellow beings.

    We need to change our thinking, our painfully old habits, our systems and most of all, our outdated “leaders” everywhere.
    It’s no wonder Elon wants to build rockets and leave..LOL even though we aren’t even sure what is at the bottom of our Oceans!
    Rant over
    Share if you feel its important – then I will have my answer – and a lot of other answers of course!

    • Billy Kiteboard on April 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm
    • Reply

    Is this what is called “stream of consciousness” writing?

    • M. Kathy Raines on April 15, 2020 at 2:15 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you, Gaige. I appreciate your editorial. The conflict between individualism and looking out for one another is natural and continuous, in relationships, families, work and play. And what we should do depends a lot on circumstances.

    Right now, I know I might actually harm another human being–maybe a stranger or maybe someone I love dearly– through getting close to people I’m not sheltering with and refusing to wear a mask. Not wanting to risk that, I’m staying away from even my beloved sons, children and grandchildren, for a little while.

    And I am most grateful for the technology we now have so I can at least stay in touch via telephone, ZOOM or FaceTime.

    We’ll get through this, together.

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