Lockdown in Seattle, US

Dispatch From Seattle.

The sky is vivid blue and the air especially fresh . A long gray wet, winter has finally given way to a glorious spring. The ornamental cherry trees that line my street have burst into bright pink clouds. Car traffic has been replaced by a parade of cheerful families walking or biking to the park. Harried parents now have time for their children. Dogs have never been happier.

In the warmth of the early evening, neighbors share a bottle of wine--at a safe distance--in their front gardens or bring out instruments for an impromptu concert.

It all feels close to utopia.

Yet a trip to our local high street tells a different story. Most shops are shuttered, their windows covered in plywood. Fresh graffiti completes the grim scene. Long lines of mask-wearing shoppers queue outside the few stores deemed ‘essential’. Inside, empty shelves, heavy security and anxious workers decontaminating shopping carts add to the dystopia.

At the exit to a grocery store, a desperate woman sits on the curb holding a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Three hungry children, please help.’

This is modern America—or more accurately, two modern Americas. The pandemic has brought into sharp relief the dire disparities of our society. Whether we emerge with the conviction to remedy this gulf or fall further apart remains to be seen.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.