Our Children are our future ­— except during a pandemic!

Guest Writer

Now we say, “Wash your hands!  Social distance all of the time! Wear a mask! Avoid groups! Be scared so we can all survive this invasion from Mars!

Historians have identified the basic elements of a pandemic. There is physical damage due to the fact that 5% of humans infected die because they have no immunity to the new virus. Then, there is the social damage as the “great fear” over shadows human life. The social damage lasts far longer and is more serious as it tears away at the social fabric that holds humans together.

One of the first Greek philosophers, Aristotle, recognized the essential nature of humans — Homo sapiens are social animals. Their existence on this earth is dependent upon their ability to coordinate activity and cooperate with each other. Individually, we are nothing.

Now, we see in this current pandemic the damage that is being done to our children. One of the most important elements of our society is the education of the young and it is being put on hold out of fear. Why?

During the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, there was no talk of shutting down society. The world was in the final year of World War I and for the United States, victory was not certain. Life went on and the pandemic took its toll. We would be living in a much different world today if the United States had shut down the war effort “out of an abundance of caution” and lost the war.

As a matter of fact, this pandemic is the first in American history to totally shut down the society and create an economic disaster that rivals the Great Depression. The US government is on the brink of bankruptcy. The deficit that was large in 2018 at $779 billion is projected to triple to $4 trillion due to the government response to the pandemic. Please note that I did not say due to the corona virus, but due to the fear response of our government.

Just as in 1918, life must go on in spite of the pandemic.

Education is the most important thing that we give our children and our Constitution guarantees a free education. Only an educated citizen can make democracy work. It is interesting to note that educators are on the list of essential workers for this pandemic.  If that is so, then let’s get to work.

Nurses and doctors face the pandemic. And grocery store workers, police, firemen and other essential workers put themselves at risk. So why not educators?

Our children are worth the risk. There are children with special needs. There are children who cannot afford a decent meal and get that meal in school. There are children who don’t have access to the Internet and distant learning.

Our children are still our future and their education is still our responsibility in spite of the pandemic. If we can win a world war during a pandemic, we can fulfill our responsibility to our children.

Lawrence E. Mercker is a retired US Air Force Colonel and pilot. He resides in downtown Sarasota with his wife Kathleen who is also a retired Air Force Colonel.  They play tennis and enjoy the view of the Sarasota Bay.

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1 Response for “Our Children are our future ­— except during a pandemic!”

  1. Sean Turner says:

    I agree with the concept of putting education first. But the government has failed to create a safe environment. The USA has above 50.000 new cases every day. In comparison – Germany has only 1000. Testing is not the explanation. The USA has tested twice as many on a per 100k basis compared to Germany. Instead of fighting the Corona Virus with basic & simple measures like masks or social distancing the US has reopened quickly and still has a political debate over what is needed to fight the pandemic.Sad.

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