Grateful for the Helpers

Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel is meeting for final approval of pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s emergency Covid-19 vaccine:

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine faces one final hurdle as it races to become the first shot greenlighted in the U.S. — a panel of experts who will scrutinize the company’s data for any red flags. …

The FDA panel functions like a science court that will pick apart the data and debate – in public and live-streamed – whether the shot is safe and effective enough to be cleared for emergency use. The non-government experts specialize in vaccine development, infectious diseases and medical statistics. The FDA is expected to follow the committee’s advice, although it’s not required to do so.

If it passes the FDA’s scrutiny, millions of life-saving doses can begin shipping to the U.S. for distribution to frontline healthcare workers and others.

Earlier this week we watched as a 90-year-old woman named Maggie in Ireland was publicly inoculated for the world to see, and I gave thanks to this brave woman who stepped out where fully half of Americans have said they won’t go.

As Covid cases climb — the U.S. lost over 3,000 citizens yesterday to the global coronavirus pandemic — many wait for what will be a huge step toward returning to normal after a year of upheaval, job losses, overwhelming death counts, business failures, and family disruptions.

I came across this Facebook post from Jen Hatmaker, a Christian motivational speaker and author, and she spoke words that many are feeling except she said them better:

As the FDA is meeting this very moment to authorize the Pfizer vaccine, I just welled up with grateful, overwhelmed tears.

Our scientists have worked around the clock; endlessly, tirelessly, with determination and urgency and total dedication. Selfless humans signed up for the vaccine trials the minute they were able to for the good of the world. Nobody stopped for one millisecond, and we have not one but two vaccines with an astonishing efficacy rate.

Meanwhile, our doctors and health care workers stepped right into the crisis and managed a pandemic like true heroes. The way they pulled together and did everything in their power to save lives is nothing short of a miracle. They were asked to do more than was humanly possible, and they did. They still are.

Then our teachers and administrators and essential workers grabbed hands and kept the whole ship afloat. Who could possibly handle all they have had to handle?? Who could reinvent education and public services in real time, on the spot, with no warning? They did. They have. They’ve done it with grit and optimism and true leadership.

And I see every neighbor who dropped groceries on someone’s porch, landlords who forgave rent, families who shared resources, communities who kept their small businesses alive, churches who cared for their folks virtually, friends who didn’t let each other slip through the cracks. How beautiful.

I am just overwhelmed with gratitude. WE WILL NOT FORGET. We will not forget the people who stepped in to a global pandemic, build a safety net basically overnight, and sacrificed for the rest of us.

I know we have months to go still, but I am so in love with us this morning. Thank you to every person who used their expertise, brilliance, creativity, innovation, and unbreakable determination to get us here. We will remember.

Jen’s words times a hundred … this is the optimism and gratitude seen in America after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is the optimism Americans held during World War II when they sacrificed for the greater good. This is the optimism from Americans during countless crises and disasters both at home and around the world.

We can do this!

If Governor Northam announces new mandates at today’s press conference, instead of protesting and making threats and thinking only of ourselves, let’s embrace everything that we can do to make a difference and help move America beyond this pandemic. If we all pull together toward the faint light that is beginning to shine at the far end of the tunnel, working for our neighbors as well as ourselves, we will make it through and come out better on the other side.

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