Are Peace and Justice Essential Services?
The Rev. Bob Davidson, national chair, Episcopal Peace Fellowship
My daughter is a medical social worker in the Intensive Care Unit of a large hospital in the Denver, Colorado area. Recently she was given a statement to have on her person from the hospital in case she was stopped on the road designating her as an essential worker. Some would say that only the medical providers (doctors, nurses, and other providers) are the essential health care workers and not social workers, chaplains or support staff.
This got me to thinking during this time of our international response to COVID-19 and the upheaval of movement and services are PEACE and JUSTICE considered essential services to our communities, our congregations, our country and the world. With dwindling resources for some due to the economic downturn, are we being forced to make a choice to support organizations promoting peace and justice at the expense of others providing vital outreach to homeless, the hungry and the isolated where we live? The answer is to sacrificially give to both causes.
During times of national and global crises, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship has maintained a vital and indispensable voice that addresses many of the root causes of inequities and imbalances regarding who is vulnerable, who has access and who is being marginalized. While COVID-19 reinforces the truth that, “Death is the Great Equalizer”, this pandemic exposes the structural disparities and racism that cries out for voices of PEACE and JUSTICE.
When communities are locked down during governmental orders, we see the privileged able to maintain greater normalcy due to the benefits of stronger technology, financial resources and networks of families and friends. Those having to maintain low-paying jobs for fear of being laid off in nursing homes, custodial and domestic work, and other high exposure positions know this inequality only too well. Inadequate access and coverage of health care sheds light on a glaring deficiency during this crisis but one which will exist in the future. The poor and uninsured always have a higher morbidity rate due to lack of treatment, medication and time to recover.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Episcopal Peace Fellowship is working to combat the stigmatizing of communities of Asian descent by proclaiming the respect and dignity of all human beings. EPF is addressing gun violence prevention as the sale and possession of firearms escalates in the illusion of self-protection. EPF is speaking out for historic shutdowns and occupation without proper access to health care services in Palestine and indigenous communities. EPF carries on our decade’s long opposition to capital punishment and the disproportionate risk to those incarcerated in correctional settings.
We encourage you to work within the needs of your own locality for direct services to the most vulnerable. Will you also continue to sustain the essential voice for PEACE and JUSTICE through your support of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and others prophetically challenging the disparities and injustices made even more glaringly obvious by COVID-19?
We welcome your support and connection through our Episcopal Peace Fellowship website: www.epfnational.org.