Banksy, the world-famous and superbly talented graffiti artist, once said, “People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish … but that’s only if it’s done properly.”
Graffiti, it seems, is everywhere these days. In our little town it is mostly seen on the sides of train cars passing by as we sit fuming at a railroad crossing, watching our precious time ebb away along with our gasoline and our patience.
We are lucky that Enid is blessed with a great deal of street art, from innovative installations like “Under Her Wing Was the Universe” and “Lazy Circles,” to colorful murals painted on the sides of local businesses.
But these pieces have been well-planned, meticulously executed. They don’t have the deliciously illicit feel and spontaneity of true street art.
There is one piece of graffiti that caught my eye the other day. It’s located not far from my house, painted on a concrete barrier on a bridge that became infamous a few years ago for collapsing just after an Enid Fire Department truck passed over it.
There are no drawings accompanying this particular piece of street art, only text.
It says, simply, “You will be okay,” with the word “will,” underlined as if for emphasis. Just a side note, the proper spelling of the term is OK, according to the Associated Press Stylebook that for as long as I have been in the business has been the gold standard for newspapers everywhere. But the word painted on the bridge barrier is spelled out “okay,” so that’s what I’ll use.
Reading the words as I drove by set me to thinking, who was the artist talking about, or to? Was that sentiment directed at a specific person or group, or was that a blanket statement meant to reassure all who view it?
You will be okay. It’s a comforting thought, reassuring, soothing, a lifeline to cling to as the rolling waves of anxiety and uncertainty continue their inexorable pounding on the shore of our sense of well-being.
The world, it seems, is going out of its way to make us feel not “okay” these days.
The pandemic seemed to be coming under some semblance of control while the world was still locked down tight, but now that states have reopened it is increasing its germ-y grip on our nation’s health and wellness.
So businesses and churches have reopened, and some, though not all, are requiring those entering their doors to don masks. And that has sparked further division in a nation already bifurcated along so many lines — red or blue, right or left, mustard or ketchup, Fox News or MSNBC.
Into this divisive morass has come the issue of mask vs. no mask, not to mention debate over whether or not to take a vaccine that has yet to be developed. Many states and cities have made masks mandatory, but not ours. I for one am tired of getting scornful, often resentful looks from non-maskers while venturing out these days.
You will be okay. Will we? Will our economy rebound from the effects of the lockdown, which slowed but did not stop the acceleration of COVID-19?
Probably what we need is another national lockdown and stay at home mandate to stem the recent rise in coronavirus cases, but what would that do to our way of life? The government is already printing money so fast our greenbacks are in danger of become less valuable than the toilet paper that was the target of hoarders in the early days of the pandemic.
You will be okay. Will we? Will we ever get back to normal, or what passed for normal when we last rang in a new year? Will we ever be able to stop looking over our shoulders at a threat we can’t even see without a high-powered microscope? We wash, we wipe, we disinfect, we stay home until we fear we will go mad then we venture out with a mask and gloves — and still we wonder, where is it, was I exposed to it today?
You will be okay. Will we? And if we are will that mean we all will be okay, or just the white folks? The death of George Floyd sparked a national upheaval, a movement that has brought our nation’s deep-seated latent racism into the harsh glare of public attention.
Black Lives Matter has become a phrase that elicits pride in some and scorn in others. All lives matter, some say — and indeed they do — but if Black lives don’t matter, then no lives matter — that is the point of the term.
You will be okay. Will we? Well, the Bible says we will. Psalm 118:6-7 says, “The Lord is on my side; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
We have come through difficult times before, times of war and famine, pestilence and drought, hatred and division, rioting and civil unrest, and yes, even pandemic, and we are still standing.
So yes, I think we will be okay, if we realize that while we may not be in the same boat we are in the same storm, if we will simply strive to be kind, generous, forgiving, loving and understanding, if we will stop worrying so much about gold and more about the Golden Rule.
You will be okay, just keep reminding yourself of that.