I was one of those people who would often look at difficult decisions that our leaders make and think to myself, “I am glad I am not in their shoes as it seems like every option is a poor choice.” We have been in one of those situations with COVID-19 where there is simply no good answer for nearly a year.
I think that we can all agree that nobody likes the options. No one wants to see businesses struggle; no one wants to see vacations and travel plans canceled; no one wants to see kids missing out on school; and no one wants their kids to miss dances or the big game. I can’t think of anyone who is glad that it is harder to see their friends and family. At the same time, I do believe that we inherently care about our neighbors and fellow citizens, it is just part of our American heritage.
I hear the opinions from one extreme to the other. When people ask me what the parents at my school think I say, “Forty-eight percent of my parents think this is no big deal, 48% of my parents think we are all going to die and 4% don’t care if their kids have to wear a full hazmat suit, they just want them back at school.”
I know that there are some differences in thoughts and beliefs related to the virus. What matters is the reality we find ourselves in. Our systems are strained by the virus. Our education system struggles because there is not adequate support staff and substitutes available. Our students whether in class or online are struggling, our teachers are spread thin with extra duties and our school boards are being bombarded by upset patrons on both sides. None of this is a benefit to anyone.
Whether or not you believe the virus is a big deal, it does not alter the fact that the virus has stressed certain aspects of our health care system. Yes, I realize that the hospitals are not completely full, and in some instances, certain areas might seem empty. There are areas though that are over capacity and staff is stretched to the limit. These are generally the areas most critical in an emergency.
I keep hearing that our Constitution guarantees personal freedoms, but let’s not forget that our Constitution starts with “We the People” not “I the Person.” Our founders were depending on us to work together for the common good and to make our country strong. Our leaders are wrestling with difficult decisions because all of us are not doing our part.
Each of us has an obligation to make the personal choice to be a leader ourselves and to make choices that promote the general health of our community.
David Roth is Legislative District 33 vice chairman and Precinct 11 captain.