Anyone who tells you that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected everyone has a problem with reality. Our lives have not just changed; they’ve been upended. Some of these changes will affect us indefinitely; others will fade with time.
One obvious change should be who we identify as “heroes” and “superstars.” Previously, much of the American public put high-powered and wealthy athletes and entertainers on sky-high pedestals. They were viewed as glamorous, talented and worth their multi-million-dollar contracts. These big stars are still talented people, but they’re not the ones getting us through this mess.
Now, our real-life heroes are the people behind masks, either in the front-line administering life-saving treatments to dreadfully ill patients or in laboratories and scientific institutions working feverishly to find medication to cure and, eventually a vaccine, to prevent COVID-19. Even the “anti-vaxxers” would likely welcome a vaccine for this scourge.
The everyday tasks of shopping for food, necessities, medicine and items to occupy children have morphed into a strange new world. Unsung heroes include those maintaining supply chains for our stores and consumers. Few of us think of truck and bus drivers, food processing plant workers and supermarket staff as heroes. But they are. Our stores still have most of the basics and more, but fear of running out of necessities and the tendency to hoard in emergencies still keeps some items rolling off the shelves too quickly.
Police, fire and EMTs are playing heroic roles. Where would we be without them now? Even some elected officials on both sides of the aisle have stepped up to hero-type roles by advocating life-saving decisions even when those are not politically popular.
We take our electricity, water, cable, internet and technical services for granted. Some of us can stay at home comfortably and in some cases, even productively, as long as these services work well. Don’t we remember the massive inconvenience that followed the derecho that destroyed many aspects of our infrastructure eight years ago? The employees that keep these services functioning are also heroes.
Small business owners are also champions. They are the backbone of American entrepreneurship, especially in small towns and cities. We need to do everything we can to keep these businesses afloat. Our governments can help some, but not enough. Within COVID-19 guidelines, we should patronize businesses that remain open and deliver or provide curbside service. Order something from them; it benefits everyone.
Educators and parents now know that we’re all in this together. No longer do we care which program or test is best for our students, but rather how can we keep our children learning and keep some semblance of educational structure, especially while parents maintain their work-from-home tasks. Many parents now report they have a great new respect for their children’s teachers and see them as heroes.
Individuals who provide school children with food, volunteer to sew needed medical masks, deliver necessities to those at home and observe physical-social distancing are also heroes in fighting COVID-19.
When the pandemic ends, and it will end but not soon enough, we will return to worshiping big-name stars, enjoying March Madness and mega concerts. That is all good, but meanwhile thank some real heroes and never forget who got us through this pandemic.