Roughly one year ago, so many of us spasmed. We succumbed to our fears, and we freaked out. We scrambled to grocery stores. We rationed food. We prepared to gouge eyes for toilet paper. We ingested large quantities of booze and we argued. Boy, did we argue.
During that same time, a group of quiet, focused and determined people went to work. They went to their labs, pored over data, hunched over instruments and tapped into their collective genius in ways my liberal arts mind won’t ever fully comprehend.
And thus began a year of striking dualities.
Things aren’t perfect. The vaccination effort has been complicated by unequal access to shots, an incomplete understanding of side effects and manufacturing foul-ups. And yes, scientists occasionally gave bad advice this past year and needed to correct themselves — we probably didn’t need to wipe down our groceries and mail. There will likely be more course corrections in the months to come.
But isn’t the pursuit of greatness always prone to stumbles? Solving the greatest health crisis of our lifetimes has been a human endeavor, naturally full of blunders, fiascos, delays, tempers lost and lessons learned.
So, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s quite breathtaking.
And I am so grateful.
Because, while I worried myself sick about my people … While I stayed home and played Scrabble with my family … While I argued on Twitter and Facebook and yelled at the television … While I zombied through my house at 3 a.m. with a bottle of disinfectant … While I visited my 82-year-old mother from the sidewalk as she looked down from her balcony … While I wondered what would become of us all …
They were working to take care of me.
Because of these quiet and determined people, more of our shops and restaurants are reopening. More of our sons and daughters are returning to school and even playing sports. More offices are reopening, and some ICUs are thinning out. Doctors and nurses and other caregivers are getting a break, and the ones we love are safer.
And because of the scientists, my mom finally came down from her balcony, and soon we were doing what we’ve missed so dearly: Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in my kitchen, arguing about the best way to prepare mashed potatoes (she won that debate, of course).
So, let us thank the scientists.
Let’s sing their praises. Let’s give them ticker tape parades that would have made Neil Armstrong blush. Let’s commission a national monument in Washington. Let’s do musicals and documentaries and Oprah interviews and TikTok videos and halftime shows in their honor. Let’s name cocktails and burgers and babies after them.
Yes. Let us thank the scientists.
Because without them, we’d still be raging.