The content of America’s character is showing in many wonderful ways.
America has been learning a few good lessons. Like this one: Big rig truck drivers are way more important and valuable than the highest paid ball players and singers.
Don’t believe it? Ask anybody who’s been hunting for toilet paper.
Which brings us to those hardy and brave souls filling the shelves at area grocery stores. They can’t shelter in place or we would all starve to death. More than most, they are exposed to a daily onslaught of humanity streaming through stores in search of household staples. Yet they show up every day and do their best to serve the rest of us.
There are so many heroes, one hesitates to start naming off “essential” jobs out of concern for leaving somebody out. That’s inevitable, so apologies in advance. No disrespect intended.
On the front lines, think of the emergency medical personnel and healthcare workers. When the call goes out for an ambulance, just like always, paramedics and emergency medical technicians scramble to respond. Often, in uncertain situations, they may be accompanied by police officers. At such scenes the possibility of being exposed to this deadly coronavirus is obvious. Yet they come. Such bravery.
The doctors, the nurses, the medical technicians and support staff at all the Stateline Area’s fine facilities stand ready. Like their counterparts elsewhere, in places around America that already have been hard hit, these angels know their lives are at-risk. They fear any exposure they get might go home with them, to infect their own families. They know all the stories of inadequate testing, shortages of personal protective gear, and rates of infection among medical personnel. Yet they stand their ground, determined to save lives even at the risk of their own.
The mail keeps coming. When the electricity goes out repair crews get it up and running again. For those who need it restaurant owners and their associates each day prepare good food in responsible ways. For those who face economic hardship, government agencies are working to receive and process applications for help.
And, yes, we will say it: In times of trouble people need timely, accurate information more than ever. Journalists, like those at the Beloit Daily News, are on the job—out on the street, trying to be as safe as they can—to report not only the scary stuff, but also the great human-interest stories of people helping people.
There are plenty of those everyday heroes, neighbors who see needs and mobilize to meet them. It is heart-warming to recognize that good people are everywhere, asking for nothing but the opportunity to help others make it through this.
OK, we know, there’s the other side, too. The internet trolls. The loudmouths and complainers. The angry crowd barking about how everybody else is out to get them. The conspiracy theorists. The critics who just know how it ought to be done. The political partisans on both sides who seem to see any crisis as an opportunity to trash each other.
Presidential historian Jon Meacham, early on, observed that one thing the pandemic likely would bring is a clear view of the character of our country. He was right.
Fortunately, for every angry troll there’s a devoted trucker. For every butt-sitting critic there’s a paramedic. For every partisan there’s a volunteer delivering groceries to an elderly neighbor.
That’s the American character. That’s what will get us through.