Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 23

The emotional integrity of a people is strong, and it’s a magical thing to overhear a family still chuckling during these times, chins raised in laughter, completely and uniquely forming part of a future for the world around them.

Even humans who occupy space all to themselves form part of a family, as well as a future; they carry in their hearts a kaleidoscope of personalities, moments, and far more information that inevitably needs to go somewhere to perform some thing.

I see this future all across Los Angeles, no matter what a news report to the contrary could bid me to buy about its present.

Today it’s been a full two weeks since mayor Garcetti and governor Newsom stood at the port of Los Angeles with the U.S. Navy Mercy ship docked to shore behind them. In their address, the mayor informed the public that at the rate L.A. was recording cases of coronavirus, Los Angeles was likely on a trajectory similar to that of New York in terms of its caseload and overrun hospitals.

But the mayor was wrong. And the L.A. Storyteller’s analysis of the mayor’s address that day predicted why the grim forecast was likely premature.

I’m not now gloating, but I do mean to reflect for a moment on the power of words. I heard an excellent quote not so long ago, about the incredible power of misinformation, paraphrased slightly here for brevity:

A lie can travel halfway across the world before the truth can finish putting its boots on.

The quote is a masterful summary of how often some of the greatest lies, mistakes, or forms of misspeaking are magnified and perpetuated at far greater lengths than truths, corrections, or statements of purpose or vision.

I think of two groups particularly affected by this phenomenon: the youngest among us, and the most senior among us. Just this morning, for example, I saw someone I follow sharing the link to a misleading report about some of California’s most recent responses to the pandemic.

It wasn’t the first time this friend of mine, who is older, shared this type of “click-bait,” but it did strike me that she likely didn’t pause before posting it to her profile to realize that it simply wouldn’t be a “good look,” for the click-bait revealed far more about what she was willing to believe rather than what was true.

This person is a voter. She is also a mother of two children in Los Angeles and therefore someone I have great respect for. But she, like most of us humans–including our mayor–is vulnerable to being misinformed, and to passing along misinformation to yet more people, if not for a few stops along the way to corroborate facts and distinguish them from fiction.

In the same way, in my experience working at L.A.’s schools, I’ve seen frequently the great power that words have over young people; words can be summoned to lift our young people up, or invoked to tear them down. More often than not, it’s a balancing act with little time allotted to it amid the throes of the quickly moving school-day. I would add for a moment that this is America, but the fact is that the school-day, like the work-day, moves quickly all over the world.

But whether at school or at work, balancing our words–like our actions–is something we have to frequently remind ourselves of, especially when trying to respond to the moment. I therefore hope more people in L.A. and across the world–including myself–can use this time away from rush-hour to find within all of our kaleidoscopes just what we need to restore for the sake of placing our best feet forward in days still to come. Indeed, JIMBO TIMES, as usual, will continue looking to remind the people just so.


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