What better time?

Ira Lacher reflects on the unprecedented crisis we are facing. -promoted by Laura Belin

What will we have learned after this has ended?

How will America and Americans be different?

How will America and Americans be better?

What kind of nation will America be in the year 1 A.C. (after COVID-19) that we were not in the year 1 B.C. (before COVID-19)?

America and the industrialized world and the people living in it will change, subtly and radically. As we stumble toward the demarcation of the eras, we need to try to answer those questions, lest they overwhelm us with unfathomable choices or even worse — leave us where we were exactly before.

The questions deal with the way each individual is regarded by our society.

We have learned that the most vulnerable to COVID-19 are those who are most vulnerable in general: the homeless. What better time to put aside the hubris that only those with wealth deserve a safe shelter, and commit ourselves to eradicating this immorality?

We have learned that our heroes are our doctors and nurses: soldiers who risk their lives to save ours. What better time to commit ourselves to giving them the equipment to perform their lifesaving duties, and dignified wages to our nurses, who can start with as little as $17 an hour?

We have learned that our additional heroes are those who perform the necessary functions that allow society to function: first responders but also teachers, repairpersons, grocery store clerks, security guards, and janitors. What better time to commit ourselves to assuring that they have a living wage when working, and adequate financial relief when not?

We have learned that the way we treat Americans of advanced age can lead to a confinement that can bring about their painful deaths, in agonizing loneliness. What better time to commit ourselves not only to assuring that our grandparents and parents can enjoy fulfilling lives but also the freedom to end their lives with dignity?

We have learned that too many Americans have failed to sacrifice their individualism when necessary for the good of society. What better time to commit ourselves to reforming education — not only to teach children the skills they need to make money in the business world but the critical thinking to be responsible adults?

We have learned that far too many families don’t have the time to teach their children well because they spend far too much time cobbling together enough money to live day to day. What better time to commit ourselves to being a true pro-life society, where parents don’t have to choose between working 90 hours a week and rearing their children?

We have learned that the internet is crucial for patients, health care providers, children and educators, and employees and employers but that too few Americans have access to full-capability broadband. What better time to understand that internet access is as necessary to modern life as the telephone was in the Forties, and commit to bringing affordable, reliable access to the 3 in 10 American households that don’t have it?

These are not policy questions for wonks. These are questions of morality, of living up to the foundation on which America sits. These and other questions strike at the heart of what America will be A.C. and whether the world looks up to us or down on us.

The tendency of Americans is not to examine why a machine seems to be running well but rather to fix it when it breaks. As we stagger through the COVID-19 pandemic toward its eventual end, what better time to examine the broken machine that is America. And commit ourselves to fix it.

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