Being brave is hard.
There are a lot of people who were not expected to be brave until the sudden advent of the novel coronavirus a few months ago.
Grocery store clerks and food delivery workers, truck drivers, and even nurses and doctors – those were just jobs. Hard jobs sometimes, vital jobs (if we acknowledged their importance, which we didn’t always do) but not requiring, in most instances, bravery.
But now we’re speaking of grocery checkout clerks and Amazon parcel delivery drivers in the same breath as first responders.
They’re keeping our society surviving.
The physical distancing and self-isolation caused by COVID-19 has led some to dub this time “The Great Pause,” and for many it has led to a halt in everything. School, work, saving for the future, careers, vacations, weddings, major purchases.
More than half our society has been put on pause. And to sustain them, the others who are now on the front lines have to work even harder. They didn’t sign up for this – not even nurses and doctors and paramedics expect they’ll be asked to risk their lives just coming in to work. But they’re doing it, because they need to, and because we need them to.
Gestures of appreciation, like the now-daily chorus of cheers and sirens for medical workers, are a big part of showing we know what they’re doing for the rest of us.
We can also make more concrete gestures.
First, and most important, respect the distancing guidelines. Keep yourself safe to keep them safe.
Second, if you’re getting a service that accepts tips, like restaurant takeout or deliver, tip if you can. Tip very well if you can afford to.
Hopefully, there will be other opportunities to pay back what we collectively owe as well. Companies will do what they have to, but as a society, we can make conditions better for workers both through political means, and through social outreach. Scholarship funds for workers or their children, for example, could pay our debt forward for generations.
Finally, do not forget.
Someday, this will all be over, the danger will be past. We will have time to mourn those we have lost – and unfortunately, many of us will know someone affected directly by this.
We will put back the pieces of our economy, and life will go back to some kind of normal, whatever normal looks like when the tide of COVID-19 recedes.
There will be a temptation to write off the folks now providing essential services. Fight it.
We should not forget the people who were unwillingly put on the front lines for us all.