“Things Gotta Breathe”: George Floyd & COVID-19

July 10, 2020

A painting of a tree in front of horizon, sunset.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“We can live without food for three weeks, without water for three days, and without air for three minutes.” I always prided myself in being able to swim underwater for a whole length of a pool or more, so when I read that sentence the other day, I took a few deep breaths and timed how long I could go before another inhale. I made it a full minute.

Can you imagine going three minutes? How about 8 minutes and 43 seconds? Well, we actually know George Floyd didn’t go that long, because there was no pulse for the last 2:53. Then our country learned that even though choke holds may be illegal in most states, there is basically no consequence for officers who utilize that tactic.

From a quick Google search I learned that the choke hold when properly applied, should not cause death; therefore, its primary purpose should be to subdue violent suspects. When executed correctly, the choke hold causes unconsciousness in ten to twenty seconds.

“To be a choke hold, there must be constant pressure on the person’s neck, compressing his windpipe or cutting off the flow of blood to the carotid artery, rendering him unconscious.”

Yet we watched a man with his blue uniform on and his hands in his pocket, look directly at civilians and into a camera, while he allowed the life to drain from a man under his knee, knowing he could. Why? Because he knew he could go back to the precinct and write a report sprinkled with those magical words, “I feared for my life,” or perhaps, “he was resisting arrest.” Dirty deed done.

At a time when thousands of Americans are struggling to breathe in overcrowded hospitals, four officers used their badged privilege to deny an able-bodied man of the breath of life. And we know they are not alone in this club of those who play God by deciding who deserves to keep breathing or not. Whether it is in a hospital under the care of helpers in white coats, or on the pavement under the arms or knees of men in blue, the victims of these suffocations tend to be dark-skinned.

It’s no coincidence that the Black Lives Movement caught fire as the statistics were staring us in the face that there is not a level playing field when it comes to the truth concerning the untimely death of the black population of America. The underlying reasons are coming to light, but that is not the subject of this writing. My musings are on the very idea of breath itself.

We wait anxiously for the cry of a baby, indicating its first breath, then we basically forget about breathing, and take that very difference between life and death for granted. COVID-19 attacks the lungs. The whole world right now is focused on breathing. Those with pre-existing conditions of the lungs such as pneumonia, COPD and asthma are the most vulnerable among us. The lonely deaths that hundreds of thousands are experiencing, with only doctors and nurses witnessing, involve a battle for that last breath that too many are losing.

As divided as the United States has already been for years now, a new demarcation line is forming between those who will and won’t wear a mask that keeps our breath to ourselves, so that others may retain theirs. This debate seems to follow our other great division, as it runs almost straight down political party lines. Yet, I believe spiritually this is actually pushing us to the next level as we enter the Age of Aquarius. We can behave like two-year-olds and fight it tooth and nail; still, the only way we will finally be able to crawl out of this mess, may end up to be right when we begin to think and behave more as a “collective.” That is the new energy we’re entering into as a planet and a species.

A painting of a tree in front of horizon, sunset.

“Dawning” by Anthony Bertucci

Mask-wearing is not for ourselves, but we must do it for others. Test results are not accurate enough yet to give us individual information we can count onwhether we are immune or contagious—but the information collected can help the county or state as an aggregate picture of our community. However, with our strong identity as individuals, we are not liking that, not one bit! It’s very un-American! I don’t know about you, but I had to laugh when I saw the town hearing in Florida where one woman sat there and told the panel that she wants the “freedom to breathe,” and that “I won’t wear a mask for the same reason I don’t wear underwear!”  Because, as she says, “Things gotta breathe!”

In Part 2, I will continue to discuss the subject of breathing, and explore the Lung Meridian, and some suggestions about proper techniques and exercises.

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