We’re Not All RightJanuary 17, 2022 Leave a comment
After the start of the new year, I returned to my organization to posts about Omicron ripping through families, the death of loved ones, and calls for us to attend to our emotional well-being. In a recent Zoom staff meeting, you could feel the stale air of malaise and resignation from living through nearly two years of a global pandemic awash with political toxicity and economic anxiety. I delivered whatever at-home test kits I could to staff stuck in their homes while holding a mug of tea to quell the burning in my lungs from COVID long-haul symptoms.
Like many employers, IISC was ill prepared to meet this moment. We’re doing our best, but no one on our team was trained in the art of managing survival through abject chaos. That wasn’t part of our leadership classes or what our mothers taught us when we left home to face the big new world.
As we hit the precipice of another variant wave and potentially others in the future, the government is withholding funds and resources that can keep people out of distress and poverty.
What we’ve come to realize – and, honestly, already knew – is that we need strong, shared, and collaborative leadership, especially in our government, to dig us out of this kind of mess. Nonprofits cannot pick up the slack of a country in crisis. Our government provided desperately needed financial help in 2020 and 2021, but it was inequitably distributed and many essential needs were ignored through a lack of cooperation. However, because of this investment, poverty fell historically for every demographic group.
No more stimulus? No more child tax care credit? No more Paycheck Protection Program funds? Limited access to COVID testing? A stunted supply of vaccines and boosters throughout the world? This makes no sense. And anyone teetering on the edge – health-wise, financially, and/or emotionally (and that’s 99% of us if we’re honest) – can see that.
2020 was rough, 2021 was tough, and 2022 will be brutal if we retreat from providing a safety net to our communities.
We’re running out of time. The policies and practices of yesterday won’t be enough to extract us from this hole. They’re not what humans need during this time and they’re not reaching us fast enough.
Drastic times call for unprecedented measures. If we want people to survive this chaos, we must be bold and pursue transformative policies. My background in politics tells me that If there ever were a time to go big or go home, it’s now.
I believe we need:
- A guaranteed income for every person and family
- A mental health corp to help us heal and sustain the will to live through the ups and downs of variants
- A renewal of the stimulus, child care tax credit, and Paycheck Protection Program
- On-demand vaccinations, boosters, and COVID testing
- Exceptional health care for COVID-19 long-haulers
- Respite for essential workers and health care workers to keep people from getting sick and dying
- Creative in-person, remote, and hybrid school options
- Unparalleled investments in climate resiliency
- Meaningful racial justice and electoral reforms to protect our democracy and bring equity of resources to our communities
- Employer-imposed work slow-downs so that we can attend to the health of our planet and to our own physical and mental health
- A four-day work week (32 hours) so that more of a worker’s life is about living than working
And we need a moratorium on attacking one another – including political candidates, parties, and all public figures. Accountability is necessary; threatening each other’s character, well-being, lives, and livelihood should be off limits. We’re not all right and we need our biggest and boldest solutions to get out of this. When people are on economic and emotional tightropes, it’s not the time to cut holes in the safety net or pass blame to others. We need fierce collaboration and transformative policies to come out of these times healthy and whole for our future.
Pandemic Aid Programs Spur a Record Drop-in Programs, NY Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/28/us/politics/covid-poverty-aid-programs.html