The Impossibly Optimistic Article
Honestly, this year has been sucky. And personally disheartening. It feels as though the world I was finally starting to understand has shifted under my feet. The eeriest part is that the shields I thought we could rely on to keep us safe seem to be the very things hurting us most.
But that part’s been talked about to death.
I wanted to try an exercise of sorts. One where I look on the bright side of life and try to find the beauty in the madness. For my little experiment in positivity, I reframe some of my biggest worries and imagine how we can build them better from the ashes (since it seems like society is due to collapse any day now).
Changing Climate Change
I’ve written before about how capitalism and climate consciousness go together like oil and water. But what if our country tried to change that— now that we all have the time to think about our habits.
Reprogramming the choices we make would be the easy part. Going without the extras is easy when there is a stay in place order and limited access.
Leaning into more sustainable individual practices will be the part that takes time. Neighbor by neighbor, neighborhood by neighborhood, the trend of environmental consciousness will spread — until soon cleaning up the local river is the new bar hopping.
When the country does begin the final phase of re-opening, we will all remember that we got along just fine not driving the world into a global catastrophe. And we survived not taking as many flights in a month as your schedule could squeeze.
I like to imagine that once enough of the country gets environmentally conscious, businesses will take note and adapt in earnest. Then news cycles will take to coverage with the same urgency as ever — jamming their time slots with op-eds, like how you can start a compost in your backyard.
The world — especially stubborn Americans — realizes that consuming isn’t the goal of life, just a goal of an economy. We opt instead for only renewable options, when necessary, that actively help the environment.
Healthcare, But for your Health
Hopefully, the key take away from this global pop quiz in crisis management is that the US is not as on top of its game as we like to think.
We have known for some time that the US healthcare system we know and love is the most expensive and — simultaneously — one of the worst in the developed world. Maybe now its time we think about reform rather than refinement since makeup on a pig is the same result.
Let’s imagine a healthcare system that focuses on preventing illnesses, rather than the more profitable practice of treating symptoms.
The marketing campaign to make face masks and the made-for-every-occasion sweatpants the new fashion statement worked wonders. And these are great options for preventing spread. But the ads for how to improve health while we settled indoors got lost in the shuffle.
The American College of Physicians lays out a plan that focuses on affordability, access for all, and a greater emphasis on social determinants of health for underserved communities. A nice starting point for discussing what a reformed system should include.
Even if radicalism isn’t your speed, can we at least try prescribing a better diet before a regiment of drugs?
Let’s not forget the regrettably expected health disparities in minority communities. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have regularly put minorities at the receiving end of health risk.
The debate is ongoing about how to best shift the trend of institutional biases. But clearly there needs to be a serious, concerted effort to serve underrepresented communities. Before it is possible to fix the problem, there first has to be an honest admittance that there has always been a problem.
I like to imagine that we collectively recognize our healthcare system’s shortcomings and commit to change. I imagine we would then ensure quality access to all, focus on social determinants as well as physical, and ease our reliance on treatment in favor of prevention.
Hopefully, our calls for a better healthcare system will inspire our diligent leaders in Congress to expand social services to create a more resilient safety net.
To be fair, none of the things I have listed would be achievable without the time, planning, cooperation, and a compelling narrative to keep our nation’s attention. But this is just an exercise, so let’s pause on the realism.
Clearly there’s a lot more to dream, but it felt good to allow myself to get overly optimistic. I hope that in the most uncertain times, people remember it is ok to hope and dream and work toward a better.
I often ask myself how such a great country can struggle so fantastically. And there are as many explanations as questions. But, I am sure that no one person has all the answers, so I keep an open mind when they voice their reality.
We are all in the same boat trying to keep it above water.
My last hope is that these trying times bring our nation closer together. I hope these trials will inspire open conversations. And when we inevitably disagree, each side learns from the other. We all have the same goals — security, love, purpose — although we have differing thoughts on how to achieve them.
Let’s start our conversations with our similarities. We know we have differences, that’s old news.