With the pandemic tearing through the United States and overwhelming U.S. health care system, we pause from the grim news to tally some of the nation’s blessings in this time.
We can be thankful for the courage, fortitude, dedication, and skill of an army of health workers of all kinds. They have put themselves and their loved ones at formidable risk and strain to treat patients under unprecedented duress. They have dealt with fear and uncertainty, giving little quarter, and approaching their own breaking points. Some health workers have themselves fallen ill, with some dying. Their sacrifices cannot be forgotten, and we need to give sustained and extra support to health workers as the pandemic enters its next perilous phase.
We can be thankful for public health experts who have kept battling a novel infection with too few resources and against relentless, unfounded, and unacceptable attacks on themselves and their loved ones. We can hope to see the day when political extremists will find a reckoning for requiring security details for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and a key crusader against the coronavirus.
We can be thankful in a measure to wealthy corporations and investors who bet on advancing technologies that have enabled rapid development of vaccines against Covid-19. But we can be more thankful to dedicated medical scientists and their crews who toiled for decades, with taxpayer support, to build the research that, yes, corporations will profit richly from, as will billions around the globe.
We can be thankful to brave “bureaucrats” and civil servants throughout the government — federal, state, and local — who have resisted political hysteria and anti-science nonsense to try to safeguard the public and fight a health menace unprecedented in a century.
We can be grateful to a calculating corps of data nerds who emerged seemingly from nowhere to step in and assist the public in grasping and visualizing staggering numbers that have captured the toll of a terrible disease. The numerically able have debunked nonsense espoused by political partisans and filled vital information roles — via the media and at venerable institutions like Johns Hopkins — when traditional sources like the federal government could not.
We can be thankful for tens of millions of our fellow Americans who may, sadly, have been invisible to the grasping among us. We should be grateful to the “essential workers” all around. They have labored through lockdowns, worry, rotten hours and pay to keep us fed, clothed, clean, and amused. We have gotten a glimpse on just how crucial their work can be. But will the struggles and hopes of this tragic American underclass be forgotten and abused anew in the post-pandemic era?
We can be thankful to teachers of all stripes who have persevered, online and in person, to educate the young and keep alive their hope of a smarter, better tomorrow. Grownups have gotten an eyeful and earful of the daily challenges of not only teaching but caring for kids all day long. Will they remember the resources it took them to support their kids at home when school bond issues and other educational finance issues come up in the days ahead?
We can be thankful for friends, neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones who have supported us through countless coronavirus stresses and strains. Women, as always, have all too often endured unequal 24/7 burdens, juggling jobs (and sadly, joblessness), domestic responsibilities, and child rearing. Their fortitude in the face of persistent inequality ought to be a consistent beacon for boys and men about their need to do better and better.
We always, of course, should be thankful to the men and women in the military, as well as those who serve us as first-responders and, yes, in law enforcement. The commitment of those who serve and protect is admirable, especially when carried out well — as occurs with most folks in uniform. Still, 2020 has shown us, with horror and humility, how much work we need to do to ensure that the law is enforced with justice and fairness for all, and especially without regard to race.
Could I go on? Certainly. In my practice, I see not only the harms that patients suffer while seeking medical services, but also their struggles to access and afford safe, efficient, and excellent health care. This has become an ordeal due to the skyrocketing cost, complexity, and uncertainty of treatment and prescription medications, too many of which turn out to be dangerous drugs.
That said, and despite the awful aspects of this fast-ending year, 2020 also has shown us remarkable things, too, that we need to keep in mind and carry forward into better times to come. Most of us have shown care, respect, and love for each other by adopting without fuss evidence-based practices to safeguard ourselves and those around us. We wash our hands with zeal, keep appropriate distances, cover our faces, and avoid confined spaces and close contact for extended periods. We’re getting tested if possibly exposed to those with the infection. We’re isolating and quarantining, if appropriate. We’re staying home as we can, including for quieter, smaller, and more intimate holidays, knowing that foregoing that Thanksgiving bash will help avert Christmas hospitalizations and potentially New Year funerals. If the facts come in as they are trending, we will get vaccinated against the coronavirus when it is our due turn. We will keep up public health regimens until bona fide experts recommend otherwise.
With providence willing, my colleagues and I at the firm will be around for awhile to appreciate you and serve you with your legal issues. We’re thankful to know and work with you and hope you stay healthy and well through the holidays and beyond!