We Face Two Pandemics
Both Need Immediate Attention

While the world is reacting to the coronavirus, COVID-19, what lurks in the minds of millions is the haunting question about the severity and mortality rates of this pandemic. Many families throughout the world have stories about earlier viral problems like SARS, MERS or Ebola. When I was a small child, I recall my father talking quietly about his older brother dying due to the Spanish flu exactly a century ago.

If you click on this link, you can determine the spread, cases, deaths, ets.

In a recent email from Ti Ti, she wrote about wishing that I stayed well, but she was a bit scared about the coronavirus. While the world addresses COVID-19 and worries and wonders, as with all the previous pandemics, this virus will come and go. Some will be fortunate not to get sick while others will get terribly sick, and some will even die. Nevertheless, life, for most people will continue as they move on.

Nonetheless, there is another problem that is faced by over half the population and has been since the beginning of recorded time. This pandemic is sexism. While nearly everyone in the world is thinking about COVID-19, half the population should be addressing it, and the other half of the population should be changing their behavior.

In the past quarter century, I have taught a litany of liberal arts classes including world religions, which I am presently teaching. There isn’t any religion that isn’t immersed in treating females as less equal to males. This was the announcement at the beginning of this week. Sandy, the announcement isn’t bold and is 10 font

During this semester, I have ranted on and on about sexism in the religion that we have already addressed. A few students have mentioned that issue also. However, we have two problems dealing with sexism. One is that half the class consists of males, and sexism is a generic term with no sting connected to it among the guys. The other half of the classes are females. This next statement is my impression. I feel that most of the women in both classes have accepted sexism as the new normal. Warning.

Steve Biko, a mentor of mine, said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Biko was addressing apartheid in South Africa. I see no substantive difference between racism and sexism. In both of those -isms, the person is born into either or both groups. No one in this world is inherently less than anyone else based upon their sex or race.

Another mentor of mine, Elizabeth Warren, last week withdrew from the democratic presidential race. At an informal discussion with reporters in front of her home, she spoke about sexism.

This comment about leaving the nominating race resonated with me on several levels, “One of the hardest parts of this is ... all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That's gonna be hard.” Then there was this sentence, “Our work continues, the fight goes on, and big dreams never die.” I wonder whether Warren’s signature on her emails was Bobby Kennedy’s comment about dreaming. I have used it for over two decades, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

However, those two comments by Warren really hit home for me personally. I felt it in my gut. I am a dreamer, but I have failed at my most important dream. I wasn’t dreaming about becoming president. My dream was for me more important than living in the White House. I dreamt about getting a half million dollars for 1250-laptops and improved Internet reception for the students at two schools where my granddaughters attend in Taunggyi, Myanmar.

Let me tell you upfront, I don’t like failing. Since my days at Mt. Lebanon High School, failure is a repugnant feeling. Despite my dreaming, I failed.

Warren also talked about her failure, “We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together … what you have done … has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters… and the changes will have ripples for years to come.” I could taste her failure.

Then it hit me, Warren’s use of the word, ripple, resonated like the crashing of waves upon the coast. I came as close to feeling her pain as she felt. And yet, a ripple was created precisely as Bobby Kennedy said it would.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Class, I want you to think, ponder, question, debate. Merely accepting the status quo doesn’t isn’t thinking; it is merely repeating. Think about sexism. If it doesn’t cause you to have issues, you are merely repeating what someone told you. Think again….

I’ve done two dances with death. I know that my clock is ticking. Unless you have done a dance, your awareness that your clock is ticking is merely an abstract belief. Realizing that I had done the dance woke me up to reality. It truly was a blessing. Trust me. Question everything. It isn’t any of my business to critique your conclusions. All that I want you to do is think.

Sexism, like all the various viruses, is spread by people. In this case, the naissance or origins of sexism starts with most men. However, the issue of community spread, or the transmission of sexism is made worse by many women. Either they agree that they are not equal to men, or they have reconciled themselves to being second class.

I mentioned in my announcement that there isn’t a substantive difference between sexism and racism. Both are rejections of basic human rights of equality. Sexists and racists believe that some people are born into one of those two groups and some are born into both. Thomas Jefferson is the poster child for both sexism and racism. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….” Women and blacks weren’t equal and weren’t counted as a man.

Statically, 6.6 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are female CEOs. The US Congress has only 24% female representatives or senators. There are only ten female governors. The 19th amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, which guaranteed all women the right to vote.

However, as Senator Elizabeth Warren noted, the dreams of little girls of becoming a president of the United States will have to wait for another four years. In addition, even if a woman became president now, that would not provide any guarantee that women would get equality related to political office or equality of pay.

Elizabeth Warren on sexism

The first bill passed in President Obama’s first term was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. At that time, women were paid 75% of what men were paid based upon education, experience, and ability. Financial parity jumped from 75% to 82%, a whopping 7%, in nearly a dozen years. If that rate continues, it will be 2032 by the time women reach parity with men regarding pay.

Lilly Ledbetter

Men started this issue of sexism…not because males thought less of women. Racism and sexism both have their roots in male inferiority not in their superiority. Therefore, why do men feel inferior to females? People don’t develop fears of superiority when they are better than another group. It took three-quarters of a century before Jackie Robinson finally got into the major leagues.

To address sexism, we need to answer why have women rattled men so much. Men are fearful of women. Women can create life, nurture, and educate children. Additionally, women live on average a decade more than men even though men claim that they are the stronger sex. I’d give up being macho if I was guaranteed to live another decade like female longevity. I’m 77-years old. Social Security’s longevity table claims that on average that a male born on January 20, 1943 will live to 87.5. I would love to add an additional decade to Social Security’s Life Expectancy Calculator, which would get me to 97.5. My lifetime goal is to live at least to March 10, 2043. When I do, I will have outlived George Burns by a day. He died on March 9th of his 100th year.

Finally, I will end, what I call in my classes, my rant with this final statement to all women, regardless of their ages. You have two choices. It is simple…an either/or choice. Either you will act and fight for equality, or you will sit back and do nothing. If you don’t fight, you will have wasted the precious time that you have on your journey down the yellow brick road of life.

Oops! I almost forget, and this is crucially important….

Hey, Ti Ti! Did you hear what PaPa Al is telling you and Snow? Get educated and fight for equality. Now, tell your youngest sister, Fatty, that Bo Bo Gyi said to get educated and fight for equality. Whether the three of you see me as PaPa Al or Bo Bo Gyi, I am proud of all three of you, and I miss you dearly. And I shall return….