This is a time of historical illumination which, with an investment of thoughtful reflection, can lead to personal and societal transition.

Covid-19 has illuminated the fact that humans worldwide are vulnerable to a tiny virus and that measures required to protect ourselves have suppressed local economies with loss of income leading to restless anxiety for some, hunger and homelessness for others. In the US we have seen Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans disproportionately impacted illuminating disparity in nutrition, access to health care and economic security.

George Floyd’s death illuminated cruelty and disparity in our policing and justice systems and the persistent racial injustice that has plagued our nation since its inception. What has been illuminated doesn’t sit well with our self image; our concept of our own and our nation’s “goodness.” We can ignore these hard facts and try to “get back to normal” as quickly as possible. Or, we can acknowledge these unpleasant facts and examine the role of white privilege, of economic privilege, of power imbalance and of personal prejudice (conscious and subconscious). We can begin to face and rectify the crushing impact of systemic racism not only on its victims but on each one of us and our nation.

Significant change needs to be individual and local as well as national. I challenge state, county and local leadership, police and our judicial system to examine attitudes and practices. Will you maintain the status quo or take this opportunity to deeply examine state/county/municipal policy and policing to eliminate prejudice and the ways in which power is inhumanely exercised? I challenge local providers of health, education and social services to act likewise. Can Socorro county and New Mexico model the change we’d like to see in our nation? Will the press monitor and report the process and results of New Mexico’s challenge to engage in systematic reflection and reform?

Similarly I challenge each one of us to reflect on how we think about and treat our neighbors, to scrutinize and overcome our deeply ingrained prejudices, to call out racism and unfair treatment whenever we see it, and to instill in ourselves and our children a deep awareness of the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.

– Sandra Noll

Socorro County

El Defensor Chieftain Editor