Get America Well Again


Our virtues and our DNA…

The heart of Americans is beating fast, our blood pressure is rising by the day. We must avoid a heart attack, especially when there is no doctor in charge — by slowing down and reflecting.

Vinita Gupta

We are longing for calm. Fortunately, the COVID-19 lockdowns are giving some of us more time for calming activities and solitude.  Since the pandemic, I have started deep breathing exercises, which have a meditative effect.

As I write this, I have already planned to skip the third debate — my ballot has been mailed.  In the first debate, the two presidential candidates did not discuss any issue of significance or those that I wanted to understand.  Fortunately, the second one was canceled. 

I was also disappointed with Chris Wallace the moderator of the first debate.  He did not help us examine the goodness of America or how we can achieve meaningful progress. 

Not reading the headlines every day might be the first step in getting our pulses back to normal. 

We are agitated and anxious with the melodrama and with candidates throwing mud at each other.  

Mainstream media blames social media for sensationalizing news.   But it is also guilty of doing the same. By listening, watching, or reading sensational news, we run the risk of emulating what we hate.

We could start to return to wellness by ignoring conspiracy theories.

The power of a democracy lies in not just being able to express our opinions but also in considering outside views and finding a reason to compromise.  According to Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, internal biases lead to consistently bad decisions.  Active listening to outside views reduces internal biases leading to better decisions.  It will take work to get there.

We could pull ourselves out of the elections fervor and debates and reground ourselves.  In an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 19, 2020,   Admiral William McRaven (retired) eloquently said, .. Black lives matter, the Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship, diversity and inclusion are essential to our national success, education is the great equalizer, the climate change is real and the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy. Most importantly, America must lead in the world with courage, conviction and a sense of honor and humility.”

These noble goals are advanced by capitalism and economic pursuits, only when the innovation engine runs out of devotion to the trait; we manage to diffuse monopolistic behaviors; we build a trusted partnership between the public and private sector;  to rebuild America.  

The next step in the recovery will be to regain our strength and emerge stronger than before.

We do have good DNA.  Historically space programs, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) work, and the like have brought new advancements:

  • space programs, resulted in unexpected benefits; the invention of aerogel to keep warm, the fireproof outfits, amongst many.
  • the nuclear program took its toll on humanity and still is the biggest threat to mankind.  But atomic research has also benefited nuclear energy production and cancer treatment.
  • DARPA was responsible for the internet. Their new brain initiatives and research in precision medicine have not received much attention.

Eight Americans—four of whom were women—were awarded Nobel Prizes for 2020.  Their work attests to American innovativeness and perseverance.

Dr. Harvey Alter and Dr. Charles Rice in Chemistry for the discovery of the hepatitis-C virus. Incidentally Remdesivir — now used for COVID treatment  — was first discovered to treat Hep-C.

Dr. Reinhard Genzel and Dr. Andrea Ghez in Physics whose work on black holes has improved our understanding of the universe.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna in Chemistry for gene editing, “contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true”.

Louise Glück in Literature, for the subtle emotions of human depth embedded in her poems.

Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson in Economics for improving auction theory, making auctioning a science.

Reading about their work is invigorating and mentally healing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the spotlight on healthcare.  The industry is hoping for the adoption of digital health, mission- rather than profit-driven care, and new medical initiatives — beyond cost-cutting or debating universal healthcare.  Some drug companies have announced that they will not enforce their patents on coronavirus vaccines during the pandemic.  The government and pharmaceutical companies are partnering on this front.

Systemic progress is often more difficult in a democracy, as it requires consensus building.

Privacy concerns have prevented us in aggressive contact tracing to prevent the spread of the virus, causing more deaths than necessary.   That is the price we have agreed to pay for the rights and privileges we earn in a democracy.

We may often achieve poorer results in the short term, but we drive with a long term vision in mind — a superior way — compared to autocracy.

America needs to heal so that we are reenergized to get to even bigger and better goals.

A strong economy is our reward for systemic reforms.  Talking about the economy before we debate substantive issues is putting the cart before the horse.