Many of you reading this are wondering how to respond with compassion to the "novel" Coronavirus pandemic. Being home-bound doesn’t have to be a burden; it can be a golden opportunity to deepen our spiritual life and to practice our faith and values in novel ways. In addition to much needed self-care, and reaching out to friends, family and neighbors via our iphones and social media for mutual support, here are some tangible ways to engage in service and advocacy while observing our city’s “Safer at Home” policy.
How to help: Volunteers who are in good health and under 60 years old are needed at food banks and shelters to help distribute food. Such service is permissible under the “Safer at Home” guidelines. You can find out more at https://laquaker.blogspot.com/2020/03/blog-post.html. If you can’t volunteer, please consider donating online. Friends Indeed, the Senior Center, Union Station and Learning Works are among the many charities in our city that are providing food and services to the most vulnerable. The Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG), which represents a coalition of churches (including Orange Grove Meeting) committed to housing justice, also needs your support. See makinghousinghappen.org.
The City of Pasadena has a website with the latest info about the Covid 19 https://www.cityofpasadena.net/#coronavirus-information
This site includes a wealth of information about volunteer opportunities, the free meals program for seniors and low-income families, how to access books at the online library, as well as practical tips on restaurants that provide takeout. It is important to support local businesses at this time and also to pay those who clean our homes, even if they can’t do their job because the need to shelter in place.
Advocating for the most vulnerable at the local level: The city website also includes info about Pasadena’s eviction moratorium that was passed by the City Council on Tuesday, March 30. This moratorium, which many of us advocated for, prevents landlords from evicting tenants for as long as the “Safer at Home” policy is in effect. (This policy requires residents of the city to stay home from work unless they are performing essential services. You can learn details from the city website.)
The Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) and the GPAHG are urging the City Council to strengthen the Eviction Moratorium by extending the payback period to at least one year and also easing the documentation requirement. To support our efforts to help low-income tenants, please contact our city officials at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local groups like PTU and GPAHG are continuing to advocate for housing justice, which is needed now more than ever to protect the most vulnerable during the Covid 19 crisis.
Advocacy at the state and national level: This is a good time to write letters to state and national leaders who are enacting major policies that will affect our lives long after the pandemic subsides. To learn more, go to fclca.org and fcnl.org.
Our peace testimony. Congress has just passed the largest stimulus package in history—over 2 trillion dollars! How will we deal with the massive government deficits necessitated by this bail out? One solution that no one is talking about is trimming the bloated military budget. The US spends $728 a year on the military, which is more than twice what our chief adversaries Russia and China combined spend. We spend over 50% of our discretionary taxes on the military. If we cut our military budget by, say, 15% a year for the next twenty years, we’d be able to save over 2 trillion dollars. If we cut our military by 25%, we could pay down the deficit and have funds to spend on what we actually need: disaster preparedness and health care for all.
As people of conscience, let’s spread the word that the time has come to reset our priorities and stop wasting money on endless wars. The real enemies we must fight are disease, poverty and ignorance. We can fight these enemies with spiritual weapons, such as compassion and self-sacrifice, giving of ourselves and our resources for the good of others.