Peace in Asheville has never been more important than in the year 2020.
Thousands in Western North Carolina are living with challenges brought on by the COVID-19 virus and lingering racism, both of which threaten our lives and livelihoods.
During this pandemic, many have lost patience with local mandates forcing lockdowns, phased reopenings, required masks and social distancing. Some local businesses have gone on life support. Laid-off employees are unable to pay rents or mortgages, car payments or even purchase food. Unemployment benefits have been delayed or have run out.
We are also sickened as we come face to face with the cruelty of racism and resulting social unrest here at home and across the country. Once again, we are reminded that Black lives do matter. Reparations resolutions, removal/repurposing of Confederate monuments, even possibly reforming and demilitarizing police, may begin to heal wounds that have festered far too long.
We truly walk on fragile ground these days. Many are tempted to scapegoat neighbors, be they immigrants, political groups, protesters or even the homeless.
Despite all these critical social, economic and infrastructure needs in our region, military spending is at an all-time high. These critical societal needs languish while federal lawmakers approve 53 cents of every discretionary dollar — our tax money — to fight and threaten unnecessary wars around the world. The modernization of our nuclear arsenal continues unabated even though use of such weapons could end all our lives.
Let 2020 be the year citizens act with improved 20/20 vision, demanding that federal funds be prioritized for peace, diplomacy and healing essential social, economic and infrastructure programs.
Peace groups and allies throughout WNC proclaim Sept. 21 as International Day of Peace. May that peace start with us here at home as we attempt to heal.
— Rachael Bliss