February 1, 2021
Happy New Year 2021!
As of late I have heard much related to “let’s move beyond 2020” or “forget about 2020” but I would like to ask you to instead “remember 2020.” In the words of George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist – “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, an apt aphorism for our time because it is through the recognition of the unforgotten pain that we will be able to seek answers for the challenges ahead in 2021.
Currently, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to devastatingly affect any semblance of normalcy, while challenging economic markets across the globe further impacting “a return to normalcy.” If history could be our guide, this harkens back to post WW1 and the Spanish flu pandemic when the world was also envisioning a more stable time, and when the quote became a slogan and a battle cry for then Warren G. Harding, 23rd President of the US.
Governmental change, while at worst, tumultuous but at its best, seen as a sign of hope for many, as in the case of the US, is showing us that the challenges are vast, and requires more than faith and hope, but will require action at the grassroots and main street level, if we are to overcome the challenges in our anticipation for a brighter day in the near future.
The racial reckoning and deliberate actions to unite communities in solidarity across America, in recognition that communities of color have been saddled with the burden of law enforcement brutality and inequity, has culminated in potential signs of meaningful and hopeful change. At time like these, many individuals, some of you included, and specific groups, such as the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement should be recognized for their value and “consistency of purpose” in changing the narrative towards the development of a more resilient and meaningful republic.
But, while we expect more challenging times ahead, your role and recognition which for the 19th year in a row Americans have identified you as belonging to the profession with the highest honesty and ethical standards (Gallup Poll, 2020) is a badge of pride that is important for you to remember, especially as you continue to experience the challenges of being surrounded by daily morbidity and mortality. The assumption that as nurses you can continue unaffected by the “daily grind” during this time is a false choice and a logic that is not based in reality, so this is why I am calling on us to be aware of our own mental health during 2021 and in the future. The call to action during this pandemic is constant and enormous, so unless we recognize and appreciate the impact that this past unprecedented year has had on us, then we risk not accepting and learning from our vulnerabilities during this sacrifice.
Finally, there is much learning that has taken place and will continue to occur as we grow as a profession but some of the lessons over the past year can enhance our awareness and better position us for where we, as guardians of the profession, further enhance the future of nursing. As voices for the underserved and marginalized, educators and disseminators of coronavirus facts and vaccines, lifeline between patients and their families, trusted societal leaders, etc., my question to you is “what role will you play in 2021?” I ask this of all of us - Alpha Omega Chapter (AOC) members - hoping that we are deliberate in our examination and deep reflection required at this time in our evolution as a profession and in our continued commitment to society.
I wish you and your families the best of health and safety during this period. As stewards of the profession, please continue to social distance, wear a face mask and accept the vaccine.
Charles E. Cal
Alpha Omega Chapter of STTI