Imagine a group of people living in a home. They gather piles of dry wood everywhere. They vageuely know it’s a bad idea and it’ll eventually cause some kind of disaster but do nothing else. Then one day there’s a spark, the dry wood catches fire, and the house is set ablaze.
The firefighters arrive and start the hard, dangerous work of stopping the fire. The folks from the house thank them loudly and constantly for their work. But when the firefighters are gone, they keep hoarding dry wood.
They could take a hard look at their home, see where they went wrong, and begin the tough yet necessary work of clearing out the dry wood. But they don’t. They hoard dry wood until there’s another fire. But the people in the house don’t think they’re bad. They’re thanking the firefighters so much for their bravery in cleaning up their mess. They feel so good about the thanks they give, they feel no need to clean up the dry wood.
This may be a metaphor for America and everyone focusing on the #HealthCareHeroes hashtag and yard signs. Americans that focus on them over the larger, systemic issues that made this pandemic worse. Issues like hospital layoffs due to an over-reliance on elective procedures for revenue, a long-expected shortage of vital medical equipment, or the implicit racial bias in our systems of care.
I’m not saying it is, but it could be. And pointing it out wouldn’t make me any less of the cause myself.