Archived Opinion

Be smart, and things don’t have to get worse

Be smart, and things don’t have to get worse

Let me wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Each year at the Passover celebration, there is a saying: “Next year in Jerusalem.” It’s a way of saying: “next year may we be in a better place.’’ Right now, I bet we can all get behind that.

The challenge is how do we head in that direction at a time when the future looks so unsettled — the pandemic, political turmoil and all the threats to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There’s just so much uncertainty — all the “what if’s” and mostly the “how bad it’s going to be.” In the absence of any real clarity, it’s human nature to latch onto the worst-case scenario, hoping for at least some foundation to act upon. But is that the only possibility out there? Is it inevitable that it’s going to turn out that way? And what will it mean for you if that belief isn’t what happens and actually turns out to be wrong?

So how about this — hold onto what you think, but leave a little space in your mind for the possibility it might be otherwise. As the saying goes: “be the change you want to see.” If we want to be in a better place next year, what can we do right now to head in that direction?

Well, the answer is Thanksgiving. You may find it interesting to know we as a country have been here before — pandemic, suffering, uncertainty, beliefs, distrust, deep disagreement — and you can see how it worked out then.

How do we want it to work out now? We know that the risk of spread is much increased when we gather together too closely. Together too long in a confined space raises the likelihood that enough virus concentrates in the air to overwhelm the immune system. Too many of us increases the chance one of us unknowingly brings more to the table than just our presence. And yet, it is that presence that is so precious on Thanksgiving — the sharing of gratitude and emotional closeness that propels us together.

How can we overcome tradition and peer pressure to preserve that while at the same time preserve each other to share a better world next year? 

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Here are some ways:

• Head to YouTube, watch the Daily Pandemic Update With Dr. Mark. Watch video #103 — Toward a Safer Thanksgiving; and #104 — A Closer Look At A Safer Thanksgiving.

• Check out this tool to see how you can reduce the risk if you choose to gather together.

• Give yourself and your family permission to spend Thanksgiving a little differently and choose together what you feel is best.

And let’s aim to look up after Thanksgiving, having preserved yourself, those you care about, your community and world in a safer, healthier space on the way to the next step toward a better year.

(Dr. Mark Jaben is the medical director for Haywood County Health and Human Services.)

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