Welcome to the Club of Those Who Don't Matter Much.
Our businesses have been taken away from us for the benefit of "others" . They are no longer considered important or needed by the general public and so we've been closed down and forced into a club we never thought we belonged to .
How did this happen? Who is making the decision for us that we are non-essentials? Was there a survey given to the public? Was there a list made by rich people who don't know what it takes to make a small business work? Maybe they have never shopped for themselves and don't know what families need on a daily basis? If so, why are they the ones sticking labels to hard working citizens?
Either way somehow the small businesses have suffered while the corporate conglomerates have only gotten bigger and richer. Were there strings pulled? Was there an agenda? The small businesses are the tax paying honest hard working local economy that has kept national economies afloat . All of a sudden they don't need our contribution to the federal reserve, social security or infrastructure.
We feel both the pain and the pinch of those words "non-essential". I could name a few industries that I would call non-essential, such as Hollywood and government employees who don't really contribute except to make overreaching unnecessary laws that stifle our businesses a take a large salary to do so. But no one asked me what "non-essential" means to me. Instead they left me wondering how to feed my family when just yesterday my small business was thriving from my hard work and dedication to my clients and to my trade.
From the onset there were never any clear cut guidelines for what non-essential covers. They say food is essential, yet all of the outdoor farmer's have been shut down. All they sell is fruit and vegetables. Is that not food? Is that not outside where supposedly the "virus" doesn't spread as much? Instead we've all been forced to find our fruits and vegetables from inside an air conditioned, closed grocery store using recycled air where you are jostled with many other people who are there for the same reason.
You could argue that at the farmer's market there were other item besides food that were sold, such as handmade crafts. But the big grocery store also has household chemicals, junk "food" , phone accessesories, appliances, kitchen ware, seasonal accessories such as scarves, socks, swim gear etc.
So what is the difference between them? Why is one deemed non-essential and the other not? Is buying, cooking and eating healthy food for our families considered non-essential? How about buying winter clothes for our kids? Now that many cannot afford to do this because our businesses were taken away from us , I guess this is also considered non-essential.
Is "joy" the key word to non-essential? Those who provide a product or service that they have poured their heart and soul into , that brings them joy to make, that brings joy to the customer, is that joy not essential to life? Sports, entertainment, tourist sites, historical sites, theater, dance, performers, restaurants, gyms, music, arts and crafts, artists, bookstores, athletics, circuses, ranches, farmer's markets, mom and pop stores, these are all part of the fabric of society and the joy, inspiration and dedication within it. Yet these are the targets of the 'non-essential" shutdowns.
Those who were able to shift and pivot with necessity, were able to re-access, re-align and move online to accommodate their clients and business needs. Those who were unable, had to close up shop.
What about the employees of these small businesses? Are they also non-essential to the business, to the economy , to their clientele, to their families ? What happens to them when they're all of a sudden sent home and can no longer provide for their families?
So the question remains: Why? What did these people do to be punished for hard work and making a living. They were the glue that held it all together. They were the inspiration and apprenticeships, for the next generation. Where does that lead the kids who are growing up? Instead of hearing the words, "work hard and you'll be able to earn a living" , what are we supposed to tell our kids now? "There's no work, just wait for the government to hand you a check" ? Where is the humanity in that? How will that bring them joy, challenge, creativity and fulfillment in their lives? Or is that the whole point? They (we) are no longer "essential" to the powers that be.
What does it do to our psych to be called "non-essential"? Non-essential to who? These people's livelihoods aren't essential to their family's health and well-being? Being independent, creative and self confident isn't essential to each person?
Our opinions and our research obviously already considered "non-essential" from the purging that has been going on inside of facebook, youtube, twitter, instagram, paypal and others. They have systematically silenced those of us harboring different opinions and "fact checks" than their own paid for "gate keepers" of information.
How far does "non-essential" go? It begins with the businesses, then spills over to the people, land, property, needs, health, food, water, religions, poor segments of the population, money, free thinkers, or anyone who questions or doesn't follow orders, anyone not able or willing to serve the new regime's needs. All of this could one day, very soon, be deemed "non-essential' because they have their own agenda and they will fit us in, or not, to their vision.
So although the governments allow themselves to deem what and who is essential, it really isn't for them to say. Just like each human is essential, each act, each word, each contribution, each life is necessary and essential .
So as one of the "non-essentials" myself, I stand with the rest of you in "non-essential" brotherhood. We've got to keep our heads above water somehow and keep our eyes and ears sharp to see who and what else will be joining our ranks. The more of us who realize what's going on and gather together in solidarity, the more essential we become.
Let's make it a priority to support those businesses who are still holding on for dear life. Shop at their stores, order from their websites, join their mailing lists, buy gift certificates from them, donate to their causes, share their work, show them love and don't let them be forgotten . We are not "non-essential", we are capable, creative, joyful, loving human beings that care for each other and we cannot in anyway let these people and their work be deemed "non-essential".