Life and connectivity in a post-pandemic reality | Livingston

We are living in a strangely defined post Covid-19 era that has us adjusting to our broken connectivity accentuated by reduced common sense. Or another way of saying it, have we all become miscreants out for ourselves with no ethics as we bamboozle our way to wealth, celebrity, power and malign each other with our politics and religious beliefs?

The real question is, after several years of being unplugged from one another during the pandemic, are we willing to re-engage with one another honestly with a sense of accountability? Or, are we going to continue spewing mistruths and misinformation on social media, parroting angry values expressed by some media outlets, as well as falsehoods preached by religious leaders grooming their flocks as crusaders in America’s forever culture wars?

People know more about celebrities and sports teams than they do about who represents them in congress or locally. We should be more concerned about the potential of electing cult leaders and party hacks who may be out to shape our daily lives in some draconian way leaving us trapped in an authoritarian autocracy, than who is the starting quarterback on our favorite team.

Conservatives attending city council meetings tend to scream the loudest on law and order, cleaning up homeless camps and directing their ire toward our elected leaders – all with a wink and a nod – knowing that our current Federal Way city council is quietly part of their echo chamber.

In recent years, our local hard-core conservative friends, backed by a more militant Republican Party and conservative Christian dogma, that often has no relationship to reality, have proven to be savvy operators controlling our political direction. At our Federal Way city council and school board meetings, local conservative groups have made their messaging high profile with their physical presence an essential part of controlling our political future as they challenge – process, leadership, rules, facts, direction, vision, and accountability.

They are ginning up fear and demeaning any people centered or progressive leaning initiatives or policies desired locally, as well as by King County’s leadership, and our Democratic Party controlled state government. They have successfully shifted our local political direction of dealing with human problems in a more holistic humanitarian way, to one of making the problems go elsewhere, barking about how crime is out of control, and that things will be better when we become solidly conservative again following Christian nationalist beliefs.

Being negative makes controlling discussions in your desired favor easier than for those trying to make directional change solutions to complex problems feel like the best path forward. Sadly, due to constant demagoguing, many of our residents believe crime is out of control and that our education system needs moral reform.

A counterpoint of local progressive thinkers is needed, but our friends with people-centered solutions seemingly have chosen to be passive. A kind and caring future is in jeopardy when only negative voices are heard.

Crime feels rampant due to an unnerving boldness by a persistent few, and the vocal watchdog efforts have made sure that our local leaders know that our fears are heard. Those with progressive voices stumbled in the minds of many in our state with a rallying cry for defunding the police. It was meant to be a statement against the murderous behavior of some police officers elsewhere in the nation. What got lost was the opportunity for an intelligent dialogue for police reform on issues that needed consideration.

Modifying police pursuit rules of engagement as a police reform issue was a successful result in the 2021 legislative session. The new law banned pursuit and restricted when to engage to the point of being able to do almost nothing. It was not smart politics in the minds of most voters. Some sanity has returned with the passage of SB 5352 bill reinstating a degree of pursuit capability combined with defined limits, but progressives lost ground in the process.

Police review and reform should always be topics of discussion but we must include addressing root causes of human behaviors involving mental illness, drugs, homelessness, violence, guns, poverty and so on in the process. Understanding human behavior, criminal activities, organized crime, and societal inequities is essential for developing better police capabilities, resources, operating procedures and training to assure that crime is held in check as well as reduced.

When asked to respond to a 911 call, the police often have no idea about the potential consequences of the situation. Is it going to be simple or, within seconds of arriving at a scene, will they be in a full-blown crisis with life threatening consequences? The news would have us believe that the police are always responding to a crisis as well as having it in for minorities. Some extreme elements in our country favor that belief as well as desire the heavy-handed approach.

Are we safe from – public shootings, guns, drugs, violence, homelessness, financial stress, food insecurity, people’s rights being taken away through political machinations and unpopular court decisions, bullying, social media trolling, media liars, book banning, political meddling from religious zealots, racism, prejudice, xenophobia, evangelical demagoguing of LBGQ individuals and rights, election deniers, anti-vaxxers, artificial intelligence, corruption, pollution, climate change, bad legislation, insurrectionists, each another and the list goes on. Safe situationally, but there is lots of work to do.

We ask a lot from our elected leaders and they often fail to rise to the challenge or comprehend the reality. Expectations are high as well as limiting depending on point of view. We can ask our police departments and public servants to do more – but we need to ask more from ourselves. Do we ask enough from one another in terms of tolerance, respect, honesty, accountability and common sense?

Ultimately we need more respect for supporting change, connectivity, tolerance for different points of view, and dialogue to gain understanding. Covid-19 drove us apart and connectivity is an essential resource needed to bring us back together.

Change begins with us seeing the bigger picture and committing to finding fair and honest solutions for our problems. Take nothing for granted – solutions are hard to come by in a nation where every individual believes they are right and entitled.

Keith Livingston is a retired municipal management professional, lifelong artist and Federal Way resident. He can be reached at