It is a rare day in America when loudmouths from both sides sound muted and mellow. One side is still trying to invent one more path to Nirvana. The other side is scarred by wounds from yore, and uncomfortable parallels this time around. They understand little of the whys of today. Neither can puff their feathers, and dazzle with their gifts of the gab – feathers are soaking wet, their voices are sore and cracking.
Breathe, America. Heal.
Last few months we were attacked by the Cerberus of the PPE – the President, the pandemic, and the elections. The former reality TV star is superhumanly adept at living, and loving, controversies every minute; that did not change when he had the mega bullhorn, and the bully pulpit, of the People’s House. The pandemic, logically, consumed people’s attention for nine months and counting. Enough is written about it already. Then the elections. We had elections through the World War and the civil war, and the previous pandemics, the Framers might have designed it this way only to keep our elected leaders on their toes every day.
This nation wants to….recover.
We need to wake up and see our country function for us, but without us having to worry, every single minute, for a change. We have already created an education system that produced knowledgeable and worthy professionals in the bureaucracy. They have done an admirable job in pandemics before this one (or lack of them, thankfully) in the past few decades. We have already created an economic system that allocates capital in a way that is envy of the world, and that does not need needling from the White House. Globally, we have created International mechanisms that critically depend on us for leadership, and we get our way most of the time. We need to restore faith in what we have, last four years’ of running amuck only got us ravages of the depression and a pandemic, at the same time.
This is a paean for the unsung government official, the unelected career professional, who lifts the burden for us. Each could go for a better paying private-sector job, but they found a calling – their pension does not even makeup fraction of lifetime loss of earnings when put in perspective. This is my wish-well list for Christmas coming up.
The list includes at the top the military and the first responders who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way, in uniform or otherwise. Thank goodness we have not reached that state of affairs yet where they need be called on election day for real. I will highlight the ones who are now working day and night, literally, to insure we get to choose. In drab warehouses, bare halls, with zero comfort and barely any safety. What they have is the State TV openly calling them all sorts of names and threatening to burn down the house, almost literally, because somebody burned 80 sample ballots, which was absolutely the right thing to do. Your own President has sullied your work to no end but to satisfy his cult who could not be bothered to take up your job, but will be easily counted to humiliate you just because, even bring firearm to the venue “for freedom”. Thank you for saving our democracy.
My list includes professionals at FDA and CDC and other institutions that carry our fight against pandemics and diseases at a collective level. Your own super boss insulted, humiliated and contradicted you – with no basis in facts or science, and explicitly claiming science does not know – but you did not give up. You know who you serve and you know the numbers and analyses that guide you. To wit, you put your foot down by not rushing through the process of approving vaccines. Even when those who care not a whit about others’ lives – and that includes the current President – tried to drown you out with cacophony of innuendos, open defiance, and false orders – you kept the semblance of sanity in the house. Thank you for saving lives.
My list includes the foreign service officer who knew they were laughed at in numerous envoy gatherings because they carried a straight face to defend the fallacies and idiocies of the Head of the State. They saw how America’s credibility, and standing, whittle away at every institution they helped build – at times with open aggression by China who lost no time in capitalizing on our self-inflicted wounds. These wounds will go deeper than the Paris Agreement or the JCPOA, both drafted by us to our specific requirements. Thank you for staying back at your posts so we can rebuild the relationships – it will be tough and will take time, but we know we can count on you.
My list includes public school teachers, if only because I can never thank them enough. Thank you for building our next generation, and thereby, the future of our country. You have made the generation next more aware, more sensible, more capable and – simply – better than we are. So, thank you. All we managed to give you are fewer resources, more demands, and those apples-to-oranges comparisons specifically designed to show you in poor light. Once again, you rock, especially in light of all of the above.
We need you today as we attempt to heal and function normally. We know you serve us, let me offer our heartfelt gratitude in return this time. That’s the least we can do.
[Partha Chakraborty is an Indian-born immigrant; a naturalized US Citizen since 2018. Educated in India and at Cornell University, Partha is currently an entrepreneur in water technologies, Blockchain and wealth management in the US and in India. The views expressed are his own.]