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  • Helms Jarrell

Essential

What is essential? Amazon said they would limit deliveries to essential items only. A stuffed toy cat arrived in a too-large cardboard box today. A paperback book arrives a few days ago.


Who gets to decide what is essential? Does Amazon decide? Amazon is not a human. It is a humongous company which is based off of an economy of extraction- consumerism and capitalism. Why does Amazon get to decide? What would happen if that was different? What would it be like if Amazon was not seen as essential? Would we tip the boy down the street for riding his bike to the store for us? Would we write our own book? Make our own paper? Would we sew our own toy cat?


Who gets to decide who and what is essential? A friend told me the luxury door making company is still filled with workers laboring away so that expensive homes can have luxury doors. The construction company is still demolishing the cute old house down the street to make room for the new lego-like duets (a fancy name for duplex). Apparently, gentrification is essential in a pandemic.


Who gets to decide who is essential? And when did they change their minds? The essential workers I know are the same ones who get paid less than a living wage to perform their essential services. The essential workers, the ones deemed valuable and necessary are also the ones who are required to increase potential contact with COVID 19. They are going to work, tending to the elderly, riding and driving public transit, laying foundations, and checking people out. Children are home from school and sometimes home alone because essential workers are needed. How sad is it that our imaginations are so limited that we are somehow ok with the idea that we need to put these children and parents at risk.


Who gets to decide that keeping things as they are is essential? The moment we all learned we needed to make changes, most of our limited imaginations could only fathom moving the stuff we normally do to a different location. Churches moved to online. Work moved to the dining room. Conversations moved to Zoom. Most of us asked of ourselves, "How can I keep making the money I have been making?


Who decides what is the definition of essential?

Essential= as instant a gratification as possible

Essential= could likely make, borrow, or barter, but won't

Essential= privatized, centralized, monopolized

Essential= undervalued labor

Essential= money flow

Essential= keeps status quo alive

Essential= keep the lowly low and the mighty on their thrones

Essential= comfort for some, sacrifice for others

Essential= high productivity

Essential= profit over people

Essential= hoarding supplies, tests, and treatments

Essential= business as usual for as long as possible


I think I know who gets to decide what and who is essential.

Empire= instant urgency over people

Empire= extraction over people

Empire= productivity over people

Empire= accumulation over people

Empire= pharoah over people



Today, on our bike ride, we saw some "essential" workers, 20 or so, working together (no masks or gloves) on a roof top.


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