On the TV, online, or through the radio, I see countless ad campaigns “celebrating our heroes”. You might be wondering why the phrase is in quotation marks. That has nothing to do with the merit of the work of our essential workers. I truly and deeply respect and appreciate the people putting themselves at risk during these chaotic times. And it’s not just doctors and medical personnel, but maintenance workers in hospitals and care facilities, the people who are still working in manufacturing plants, the farmers who are still picking our food, the health and sanity workers cleaning buildings and our streets, the trash collectors, and all the people who are too often overlooked.
These people are amazing and deserve our respect and appreciation… but they also deserve our cooperation.
My problem with all these ad campaigns and the Blue Angels flybys and all the other shows of support is that they don’t support people at all. It’s like a hollow thank you, or standing up for the national anthem as a knee jerk reaction as if that makes you some kind of hero. These campaigns and the empty words behind them don’t change the fact that emergency pay will be or has been cut, that our medical workers are still underpaid, understaffed, and have a precarious shortage of PPE equipment in countless towns, cities, and states.
But people still put a lot of stock in these campaigns and on applause. That’s because it feels good to feel as if you’re making a difference even when so little is given and so much is taken for granted. On many occasions, medical personnel are greeted or sent to their homes with a round of applause for their work. The people applauding are people in the hospitals who are genuinely thankful because they see these people showing dedication the likes of which no social media influencer has an idea of.
They want to encourage these people because they can’t even begin to imagine the struggle that it is to get up every day to face the situation as it is, while sucking it up and turning a blind eye to so many people who want to fight for their right to a haircut, or massage, or some asinine “right”, like the right to not wear a face mask and practice social distancing. They suit up and come to work 12-14-16-18 hour workdays, caring for people whom they don’t know whether they’ll make it or not. Breaks are few and far between, scars are in place because of the protective gear they have to have to wear constantly and bodies and minds are being pushed beyond their limits in the most grueling experience any of them will ever live and experience. So people clap and cheer with love and thanks… but not every day is a win. Not every day has positive outcomes. Some days are the complete opposite. Somedays a patient doesn’t make it…. and sometimes several don't. And they have to keep going through the motions, bury down the pain, the anguish, the frustration, and all the feelings that only they know… and they come through the doors and hear the last thing they want to hear… clapping, cheering, and words of encouragement. I’ve read of several people who take different routes to avoid these shows of love and support because it’s too much. They didn’t win even if they are winners and heroes and the most important people in this country right now.
Yet you turn on the TV and boom, "thank you heroes"… from companies who are forcing their employees to go into work, no matter what. From companies who have made record numbers in sales and are making the rich richer… but people NEED to come into work, extra pay is being cut, hazard pay has run out, health insurance is cut, protective gear is not guaranteed, and some people will be furloughed, because… you know, the times…
Clapping, congratulating, and making ad campaigns to celebrate heroes while doing everything to make their life more complicated is as stupid as it sounds… so maybe we don’t need to clap. Maybe we need to stay home. Maybe we need to wear a face mask. Maybe we need to cooperate…. But that doesn’t seem to be the most patriotic thing to do for some people… so enjoy the ad campaigns and your $450,000 fly bys while people keep digging deeper than ever to show what being a patriot is really about.
These are rough times and although we have to find kindness and smiles wherever we can, it’s not a time to be selfish, ignorant, or childish. If one small sacrifice can save a life, why is it so hard for people to see that? Why must measures to ensure safety be considered forms of oppression? I honestly don’t know. Meanwhile, hospitals seem as if they’ll have to depend on Go Fund me campaigns and Kickstarter efforts because there’s no money for that. Think about that. There’s money for ad campaigns to celebrate these heroes but there’s no money to truly help them out. It’s almost like standing for a national anthem yet voting for people who continue to cut benefits for veterans and looking down on veterans who have hit hard times and are now homeless. If that sounds particularly harsh, then ask yourself why it feels that way and also ask yourself how it has to feel for doctors and medical personnel to give their all to do their part and see people throw a tantrum because they don’t want to wear a face mask and need a haircut.
If the tone of this post seems heavy, it's because it is. Because I saw a lot of pictures and videos of people partying and taking zero precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of others as if we can regularly take a holiday from the pandemic. I do hope you’re staying safe and doing your part to keep others safe as well. It’s a time to see how we can help and be part of the greater good even if it means an individual inconvenience, though that's my opinion and since it's still a free country you can feel free to disagree.
Peace, love, and maki rolls.