I have gained some perspective in recent times, specifically in my new job and its last location. Lately, I have revisited and started a new job with the family company as an Assistant Project Manager in which I build freezer warehouses. I have been working with them now for about two months. The work is great. I get to travel around the country and learn about basic architecture and refrigeration on an industrial scale. But the reason for me writing this is not to talk about my new job, but rather, where my first job assignment was. On Monday morning of my second week of work, I received a phone call from the Project Manager:
“Hey, are you doing ok?”
“Yes, all good,” I reply.
“OK, good. Is everything else in the city going fine?”
“You haven’t heard?”
“No, what’s up?”
“Oh, well there was a police officer who shot a black citizen in the back last night, and now there are riots in the city!”
Yes, my new job site location was in Kenosha, WI, which was making the national news headlines.
I was located about ten minutes outside of most of the chaos that was occurring, and so I did not experience firsthand the havoc that took place downtown—a very unfortunate event for the city of Kenosha to say the least. Although, it was very odd to be in a city where so much craziness ensued. The seriousness of the events that took place solidified for me when I received an alarm on my phone that said that there was a “State of Emergency” curfew in the city at 8pm. I went out one time after that curfew, and I will admit that it literally felt like I was in the movie “The Purge.”
While I was in Kenosha, I saw some interesting things that happened. For instance, I liked to frequent a particular burger joint in town where I could get some good food and a beer. Classic me, I made pretty good friends with the bartenders and manager and one night, during the first week of curfew, the manager said that I could stay a little past close (7pm because of curfew) and hang out for one more beer—they insisted, I swear! So of course, I stayed and enjoyed company. Well, when I went to leave the restaurant, I found that all of the exits (three of them) were blocked off to get in or out of the large plaza complex. Seeing that I could not exit through any of the areas, due to blocking off businesses from being vandalized, I decided to bushwhack in my truck through a grassy path. On the other side of this path, there was a cohort of military soldiers (about five or six of them) with firearms in hand. I just kind of gave them a nod, and they didn’t really think much of it (I think others, by the looks of the tire tracks, took the same path). This experience was eye opening for me because of the blockades and armed forces on duty.
Another experience that I had was week two after the shooting: I drove downtown to observe. Well I kind of zoned out during my drive downtown, and forgot that I was in Kenosha. As I drove around, I passed a car sales lot with thirty or so cars burnt to a crisp. I passed a building that was burnt to the ground. I passed buildings that were boarded up and spray painted “BLM” (a few people in town that I had talked to claimed that others from out of town had also come into town to cause ruckus). I passed one building that had a board on the window that said, “blind man on second floor,” which I assume was to indicate to not mess with the poor handicapped man during the chaos of everything. As I drove by these sights, I had a feeling that this was happening throughout the whole United States of America, and then I realized that this was only happening in Kenosha. It’s weird when you see something on the news and you think “yeah, that’s happening somewhere else” and then move on with things. But when you are in a place where the actual events that are captured on national news are occurring right in your back yard, well for me, for a second, it felt like this was happening all over. It did make me wonder though if this could happen in the whole U.S.A.
Things are so weird right now in our country. The mask wearing is very odd; politics are rampant and in your face; education in the secular realm has made a major shift to a technologically based pedagogy, and much more. It all has happened so fast too, with Covid-19 being a catalyst of it all. I wonder about a lot right now, and a lot has been put into perspective for me lately too. Things have calmed down in Kenosha as of now, but I do not think that things on a national scale have calmed down. What are we to do? Honestly, I do not know if it is worth one’s energy to try to change things in a typical activist approach. Rather, I think that now is a time to survive. And by this, I mean creating or finding small groups of people that you can trust and create Catholic culture at best, and if not, then to create solid micro cultures based on sound principles within the larger macro culture. In this way, I think that one leads by example. We must be smart and think differently and outside of the box. Be a true lay person of the Church. It is a great vocation and it is called for more than ever right now.