According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, 48,344 Americans have died by suicide so far in 2020. Even during a pandemic, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-54. Our fellow Americans are suffering and there seems to be little end in sight. This suffering is only compounded by the despair that comes from the impossible and inescapable situations so many of us are finding ourselves in as of late.
Unemployment rates are debatable and hotly contested in the media where they are weaponized as some sort of political tool. However what unemployment rates are truly a reflection of is the state of the health of our country and right now the outlook is grim. On the TV screen and in the news feeds, unemployment rates are simply numbers but in our towns and neighborhoods they are people struggling to make ends meet. They are the father sitting up late at night going over his family’s bills and realizing there is no way to pay them. They are the young woman applying to job after job as more businesses close by the day. They are the family, previously thriving and optimistic, finding themselves face with eviction and the horrors of homelessness.
And amidst all of this despair and destitution, where are our leaders? The silence from those elected officials who swore to represent and fight for the interests of the working man has been deafening. The false platitudes trotted out on the campaign trail are of little use to the people if when we are in need the politicians send themselves on summer vacation. As the downtrodden working class experience mounting frustration they are turning on each other, channeling their righteous anger at their situation into a fight against their fellow workers when the only true way to change our circumstances is to focus that anger on its true source, the people with the wealth and power to affect real change who sit idly by as others suffer.
As the days become darker and our national outlook becomes increasingly grim, I encourage you to look at your fellow countrymen as your brothers and sisters in struggle rather than your enemy, because as Victor Hugo once said, “There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.”