Dear People of Flint,
We are weeping with you. Since a state of emergency was declared in January 2016, the horror of the unclean drinking water has filled our airwaves and televisions. Today, we watched as a nation as those appointed to protect you were charged with allegedly covering up an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that killed several people and hospitalized many more. Five government officials, including Michigan’s health department director, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter due to deaths connected to the outbreak. This should never have happened.
As a fellow Michigander, this hits far too close to home. I grew-up only a short drive away from Flint. I have dear friends who live there. It could have been them or any number of people I know affected by this negligence. Had the crisis spread just a bit further, it could have been the children in my family exposed to lead poisoning or Legionnaire’s disease. I shudder to think about how you must be feeling.
No parent should have to worry about the water their children are drinking in their own home. No parents should have to worry about the affect lead poisoning might have on their child’s mind. And certainly no parents should have to worry about their government officials causing or covering up their child’s exposure to a devastating disease.
Those who we elected to represent and govern us should be held to the highest standard. Their actions have wide-reaching effects and lives are in their hands. The innocent men, women, and children of Flint have been let down. People have died and many more have been hospitalized as a result. And the entire nation’s eyes have been on this state as the long process to restore clean water has unfolded. We mourn your pain and this break of trust between you and the state and local government.
While this is a day to mourn, this is also a day I am proud to be a Michigander. I’m grateful that the Attorney General has made it clear that no one is outside the scope of the law and that he will hold the neglectful individuals responsible. I’m proud to have read stories of the state and seen the state coming together in remarkable ways. Churches across the state have been collecting and distributing bottled water to the people of Flint. The spirit of the mitten state remains strong.
This tragedy has opened my eyes. For too long, slacktivism has ruled my participation with those around me, but I can’t let that continue. Your tragedy, a tragedy that hit so close to my heart, has given me a new level of compassion for those all over the world without access to clean drinking water. It’s put a face to those who feel the effects of neglectful choices of their governments, particularly in areas where they are not help accountable for their actions. Flint, if any good can come of this, I pray that going forward I and others will do more than just raise awareness, that we will take action.