We Fritter Away Our Chances

Being out of work for a couple months (or possibly longer – not sure when I’ll be going back) is a strange experience for me. I always knew my job as a writer wasn’t essential, however valuable it is. Sure, I can entertain and enlighten readers, but I’m not putting bread on their tables. I’m not manufacturing medicines or delivering necessities or assisting with healthcare.

I get it. I’m not essential. And I’m okay with that.

But it’s weird to look at how this whole essential/non-essential breakdown plays out. A lot of companies lobbied the government to make sure their businesses would be classified as essential. Pet and liquor stores, for example: essential. Same with gun shops and the coal industry.

Abortion services? Sorry.

And a lot of healthcare professionals have been laid off as non-essential by the for-profit healthcare system we have. Nurses and doctors who aren’t ER employees but who could help immeasurably in these difficult times have lost their jobs simply because elective procedures have been deemed non-essential.

Many healthcare professionals who want to help out with the virus are being told that they have to quit their jobs (with no guarantee that they’ll get them back) if they want to keep working in a different capacity or for a different hospital to help with this crisis. That’s not sick and twisted at all.

You can’t get your hip replaced but you can buy a sheet of plywood for a treehouse for your kids. That’s beginning to change as states open back up. Soon, most businesses will be re-opened, at least until/unless the virus gathers its second wind. Then things may have to shut down again.

The reality is that many businesses that are not essential have been designated as essential, while many employees with essential skills are being told they’re out of jobs. This inefficiency isn’t surprising, I suppose, but it’s still a little jarring.

I always knew political games played an overly large role in our society, but to see politicians rationalizing and prevaricating to achieve their desired ends at a time like this still hurts.

I thought humans were better than this. I thought, when the tough times arrive, we’ll pull together, sacrifice a little for the sake of our neighbors. And many of us do. I don’t mean to minimize that. Many of my neighbors are real heroes.

But too many of our “leaders” have chosen to advance their agenda at the expense of all those who disagree with them. Quick, let’s appoint more judges! It doesn’t matter if the only ones who trust us are those who share our ideology.

So our society, already divided, shatters further, possibly beyond repair.

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