Archived Opinion

A glimmer, and it sure feels nice

A glimmer, and it sure feels nice

A year later. We’re still mourning the deaths and illnesses, the disruption of life as we knew it, the months of gut-wrenching unknowns causing unfamiliar anxiety. It was March 17, 2020, when Gov. Roy Cooper began shutting down businesses and most of us waited for the tsunami that we could see — or at least imagine — in the distance without having any idea how horrific its final toll, when the worst of it would come, when it would finally recede, and who or what would be left standing.

I’ve always been confident in my ability to take care of myself and those close to me, those who matter. My upbringing was lean, so I grew up figuring out how to scrap, how to survive and will your way to the other side when you couldn’t always see the path. So, the year of Covid, especially back last spring and early summer, I — like many others — was on shaky ground. No matter my toughness or my abilities or my planning, things were out of my control. That’s frightening.

We were laying off employees, people who were my friends. I feared the business I had started and nurtured for 20 years could, perhaps, go under. I wasn’t sure how my children would get through all this, my in-laws who are healthy but in their 80s, hell, even if my wife Lori and I would be safe. 

But here we are, and despite the human toll — 535,000 U.S. citizens dead, 2.66 million worldwide — most of us are optimistic that we can finally see to the other side, that the tide is turning, that this weird interlude in our time here on this planet is finally being beaten back one day at a time. Medical and public health professionals are warning us, wisely, not to let down our guards. But hope and optimism are part of my DNA, so I can’t help myself.

We all react differently to a crisis. Even in the early days of the pandemic, I remained confident that researchers would tame the virus. I’m not a science guy, but I’ve read articles and books over the last few years on the advances in DNA structuring, genome editing, CRISPR technology and RNA sequencing and such. Surely we could quickly develop a vaccine if we dedicated the resources. These biological breakthroughs coupled with supercomputers have changed with way we can attack medical problems. 

More worrisome was whether politicians could cope with the economic issues that came with the shutdowns. This is from a column I wrote on March 17, 2020:

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It’s a frightening future when hard-working people all over the country are having to count on politicians to get them through a hard time. We’ve often heard people accuse them — the politicians — of not knowing anything about Main Street and how it works. As I look down the road and see at least four to eight weeks of shutdowns and definite slowdowns, I’m hoping we’re wrong. 

I’m hoping those leaders in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh get this right and provide help not only to the large industries owned by their fat-cat donors, but to the workers soon to lose their jobs and the small entrepreneurs who employ those workers and who are the bedrock of this economy.

Largely, politicians did what was needed. They upped unemployment benefits, didn’t penalize businesses for laying people off, provided loans and grants on great terms to businesses large and small, provided direct payments to most taxpayers, demanded landlords not evict tenants for non-payment, gave young workers a break on paying down their student loans, and more. 

We can argue about the details of these aid packages and whether they adhere to one’s conservative or liberal ideology, but many small businesses — like ours — have made it through this tough year when things originally looked dismal. When the GOP was in control, needed measures were passed; when the Democrats took control, needed measures were passed. 

The future is always uncertain. But, a year ago most of us couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now a glimmer, and it sure feels nice.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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