By Richard Rogers
Do you also find it hard to believe that only four weeks ago a slate of presidential candidates were making last chance stops here in North Carolina, vying for a Super Tuesday victory? How has time moved so slowly, and yet so fast?
These are unprecedented times, and perhaps what’s happening right now is the pinnacle of an unprecedented era. For me, it seems our society has, for some years now, begun accepting the unparalleled as the ordinary.
I believe this is now changing. Though the pandemic has yet to show its full lethal hand, we’re already learning from it. Many of these lessons are deeply woven into the public sector narrative. I think there will be many more lessons to come as we go through this together.
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Lesson one: While debating the merits and purpose of larger or smaller government is a common American conversation, the consequences of such decisions made by local, state and federal governments are now being put to the ultimate test. Whether we have the resources and manpower ready and available to adequately fight COVID-19 will directly reflect public policy trends and decisions made since 9/11. The epidemic will shape health care and other public policies for decades to come.
Lesson two: Public servants are valiantly working on the lifesaving front lines during the gravest national emergency since 9/11, and our country’s greatest healthcare crisis in more than a century. Many public sector workers also continue to work while being at increased risk of exposure. We should all pause and think about how once again the public sector is boldly sacrificing for the public good.
Lesson three, and perhaps the most important: We are hearing the call to step up for the common good. The cultural and healthcare tsunami that is COVID-19 has returned us to a shared humanity. As we are threatened, we have rediscovered how indivisibly connected our lives are. This is the silver lining on the most tempestuous of clouds. We are responsible for each other. And we are living up to our responsibility.
COVID-19 is tireless, has no favorites, and respects no borders. Protecting ourselves and each other creates a societal immune system. Ironically, as we distance ourselves from each other, “we” together are the reason we will prevail and beat the coronavirus.
And we will. Together.
Richard Rogers serves as executive director for the N.C. Retired Governmental Employees’ Association.
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