“No one is coming to save you.” We hear that message over and over on social media as a call to responsibility. And the message often makes me roll my eyes because it discounts friendship, brotherhood, family, and community. To be quite honest, for most people, if no one is coming to save you, you’ve done a piss-poor job of building relationships. But, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes it’s simply true that “no one is coming to save you”. Here’s what I mean.
Scott could tell it was getting out of hand. His neighbor and the protester had been exchanging words, and it was getting more heated by the minute. One wrong move by either of them was going to set off something very, very ugly. So Scott called the police and requested that they come and help deal with the situation.
Here’s the response he got: “Sir, the city is under attack. Do what you have to do.” And they hung up.
Scott was floored. “Really?” he asked himself. For the first time, Scott realized that he was on his own. If he was going to survive this, if his family was going to survive, it was up to him. No one was coming to save him.
There’s a popular joke that we’ve experienced three different years in the first five months of 2020.
- We had 1918 when the Spanish flu hit the country,
- We had 1929 when the stock market crashed and put millions out of work, and
- Now we have 1968 when civil unrest became the norm.
Through it all, 2020 has been screaming one consistent message: no one is coming to save you. You must take care of yourself. From COVID-19 to joggers being shot and killed to riots and looting across the country, it’s clear that we cannot count on institutions to save us. That’s our job.
The virus taught us that we cannot take for granted that the supply chain will always be intact. We may not be able to get food, water, and, of course, toilet paper. Our jobs may not be around. Schools may not be in session. The system that we’ve relied on for so long may not always function. So, if we’re going to have money, food, and supplies, it’s up to us to provide them.
And the events of the last week have taught us that the police will not be around to protect us. As I wrote in this post years ago, about the most that we can expect is that they’ll be around to write a report after it’s over. And some of us have experienced the reality that the police showing up only makes things worse.
Our system has worked well. In fact, it’s worked so well that it is has lulled many of us to sleep. It’s allowed us to outsource many of our tasks to professionals. We get our food from restaurants and grocery stores. We count on the police to protect us. But 2020 has been our reminder that protecting and providing are our responsibilities. If we delegate those duties to someone else and that person fails – guess whose fault it is? Ours. It’s our fault because those things are our responsibility.
The days in which we live are requiring us to get better as men. We’re being forced to change and adapt. We’re being forced to find new streams of income. We’re being forced to figure out how to survive if the supply chain goes down. We’re reminded that protecting our loved ones is on us.
But still, we’re not alone. And we don’t need to be alone. Friends, neighborhoods, and communities are more important now than ever. If violence and destruction come to your city, lend a hand and help clean it up. Reach out to those who are scared or hurting. You don’t have to agree on everything, but don’t shy away. Your presence says you care, and that goes along way in divisive times.
The good news is that Scott’s story had a happening ending. The incident with the protester and his neighbor ended without violence, despite some hairy circumstances, which included a car on fire. And the neighbors were out the next day together cleaning up the area.
But here’s a question worth asking: if you were in Scott’s situation, would your family be in good hands?
If so, good on you. Keep up the good work. If not, you have work to do. That’s the man’s life. Godspeed.