Nobody Wants to Work

We’re closed today because nobody wants to work, said the sign on the restaurant’s door.

This lament will be familiar to any restaurant or business owner in an industry that survives on a business model of low paying jobs.  Simply raising wages may not be sufficient to attract workers, even if it were financially feasible, which it usually isn’t.  Working conditions are also important.

So take another look at that statement from the perspective of the workers.  As someone whose been as a short-order cook, a gas station attendant (the only one not robbed in broad daylight by an armed nutjob) and a motel maid, that message is insulting. 

It says I showed up for every assigned shift, pulled double shifts when asked, dealt with horrible and rude customers, put up with unreasonable and demanding bosses, and all for a company that doesn’t value me as a person or an employee. 

Blue collar workers face job insecurity.  Millions lost their jobs during the pandemic and many of those jobs aren’t coming back.  Those still employed worry about losing their jobs even as they work extra hours due to a shortage of workers.   

Blue collar workers face housing insecurity.  Whether paying a mortgage or renting their homes, costs are going up.  Many blue collar workers never earn enough money to build a nest egg to protect them financially if they lose their jobs.  They are always a paycheck away from default and a possible eviction.    

Blue collar workers face food insecurity.  Inflation hits the poorest first and the hardest.  As more of a family’s earnings must go to pay for housing and utilities, there is less to pay for food.  Food pantries say they’ve been overwhelmed with the numbers needing food assistance.

Blue collar workers face a health crisis.  They often lack employer-sponsored health coverage, and even if it’s offered, they probably can’t afford the payroll deductions for their portion of the premium.  But they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, particularly in the states which refused for political reasons to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor.  As a result, treatable health conditions become life threatening.

All these insecurities pile up to emotional and physical burnout. Blue collar workers are exhausted.  They have spent decades working jobs that paid little and offered stingy benefits, while facing condescension and amused contempt from people who either never worked these types of jobs or have forgotten what it was like.

Blue collar workers are reacting to burnout exactly like their white collar counterparts. The Baby Boomers are retiring and those who can are switching to jobs with better pay, working conditions and employee benefits. That leaves some employers in a bind.  That bind won’t be fixed by accusing the potential workforce of not wanting to work.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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The Other Side of the Couch – Patience Rewarded

Kara 2022

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When a feline companion of eighteen years left us last May, I knew that at some point I would want to adopt another cat.  Our resident cat, Jasmine, now ten years old, came to us at age two when her first family moved to New Zealand.  She and Oscar became friends – he was ten at the time – and although they were never buddies, they did tolerate each other to the extent that they sometimes even sat on the bed together.

Jasmine adapted well to being on her on, especially because the pandemic has resulted in my being home almost all the time.  However, as things began to open, it became apparent that she would be home alone for some stretches of time, and I was worried about that for her.  She had always been with other animals.

We decided to adopt a younger cat in hopes that they would become playmates.  Alas – best-laid plans – when we went to the cat rescue to choose a cat, we were chosen – by a nine-year-old female named Kara.  She was a greeter – she was seated in a small box on a table right next to the door as we came in, and she was friendly right away.  We looked around, and we spent time with several of the younger cats (there were twenty-five cats roaming around) – but the one we thought we had come for turned out to be “playful” in a bit of a rough way.  My husband wanted none of that – and Kara was our choice.

In adopting an older, female cat and attempting to integrate her into our home with an even-older female cat, we were embarking of a journey that would require patience!

So began the Saga of Jasmine and Kara, a continuing story told in weekly installments to an avid audience of friends.  Following the instructions gleaned from our cat whisperer friend and from Jackson Galaxy YouTube videos, we began by not even allowing the two cats to see each other.  Kara was whisked into the house and placed in a secure room with her own box, food bowls, toys and water. This happened to be the room in which we watch TV, so she would be sure of company in the evening.  The next steps were to exchange scents – rub old socks or t-shirts on each cat and put those objects in the other cat’s areas.  Next we moved Kara into another room for a bit and let Jasmine into the TV room to sniff around.  We did this repeatedly.

The next step was crucial – we put up baby gates at one of the entrances to the TV room and began to crack the door open when both cats were eating – thus creating an association with “seeing other cat equals getting food”.  We quickly learned that Kara is an agile escape artist who could climb right over those gates!  However, they did serve the purpose of allowing visual contact if they were monitored.  I also learned that as soon as Jasmine saw Kara that I needed to pet her (the resident cat!), reassure her that this interloper did not mean she had lost us, and play with her using her favorite toy, a fishing pole with feathers attached.

This journey began in September.  We are now at the point at which both Jasmine and Kara are out and about in the house during the day.  Jasmine is the dominant cat – a Maine Coon mix weighing in at twelve pounds; however, Kara, a long-haired black tabby with Maine Coon features as well, and weighing about eight pounds, is a little acrobat and very interested in joining with and playing with Jasmine.

This has not yet occurred, but I would say that the possibility exists that they could end up on a bed together. It has taken patience, time, and determination – some would say why work so hard?  In part it is because we were chosen – but also it is within our ability to provide a safe and loving home to an older cat – and the rewards of that choice are many.  We love them both, quirks and all, and I have hope that the patience we are all displaying will be rewarded.  

Patience is an old-fashioned virtue – in our fast-paced and throw-away society, we are not used to delaying gratification or waiting for things to unfold.  Jasmine and Kara are teaching us time-honored truths by showing us that it takes time to adapt, to trust, and to create new connections.  It will not be rushed – it takes the time it takes – a timely reminder that even fear and conflict can be mitigated by patience and a good meal!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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Hanging Onto Love

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Although this is the first post of the new year, I’m straying from the typical calendar themes and this month I want to write about Love. After all, this blog is the place where I get to write about whatever is on my mind, and today Love is the topic.

What is it about love that drives us to seek it out? I’m not just talking about romantic love, but love in general. What is common among the various forms of love? My co-author of this blog, the fabulous Susan Hammonds-White, is a licensed counselor. She likes to say she helps “mend broken hearts,” so she’s basically an expert on love. Susan teaches about how love affects our brain chemistry, explaining that in the early stages, our brains are awash in hormones. I’m not sure if it only refers to romantic love, but let’s assume it’s the same for all types. Those early stages can be addicting, for sure. Why else are there people who seem to fall in and out of love on a regular basis? According to Susan, over time, our brains adjust and that is where real, deep, lasting attachment begins. I guess the goal is to hang on long enough to get past the “drunk with love,” stage so we can build something real.

Sometimes hanging on is built into the system. For example, when my daughter was born, I fell madly in love with her. I could not stop looking at her, holding her, drinking her in. I was, to be honest, infatuated with her. As the years pass, my love for her has grown and deepened into something even bigger and hard to explain. I’m still pretty obsessed with her, and of course she is no longer dependent on me in any way. But I honestly feel love and admiration that is real, and infinite. The early infatuation carried me through some difficult times while she was growing up. And this experience was the same for her two younger brothers. As each baby boy arrived, it felt like my heart just kept expanding. Today, my children remain the three most interesting and captivating people I know. Our love for each other helps us though good and not so good times, and bridges the gaps when we disagree.

But what keeps us longing for, searching for, and hanging onto love that is free from parental responsibility and biology? What about siblings? Of course, biology plays a role, as well as family loyalty and shared history. But we all know we don’t choose our siblings and close relationships might just be a matter of chance. Still, many of us continue to pursue love from our siblings, even when they push us away. And what about our friends? I’ve had friends through the years who I’ve tried hard to love, but I’ve had to let go of the friendship for one reason or another. I know sometimes friendships outlive their place in our lives, but it’s still painful to say goodbye to someone you’ve loved and shared really great experiences.

And now for the obvious, romantic love. I know a young couple, recently married, who are struggling to find their footing. On paper they don’t look like they’d be a good match. They have some major obstacles to work through, but they clearly love each other and want to make things work. I’m praying they hang on. I, too, was a very young bride, just 21 years old. After four years of college together, we married just before my husband went to graduate school and I went to work. It was hard. But by the time we got married, we’d spent four years getting to know each other and despite our youth and inexperience, we passed through the “drunk with love,” stage and were ready to build something real. We hung on long enough.

So, what do all these love affairs have in common? I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but for me, love feels like home. The people I love and who love me are those with whom I am the most myself. I recently attended a family reunion with cousins I hadn’t seen in many years. In fact, it was the first time in a long time that we’ve all been together. Despite the years and the age differences between us, I felt loved, I felt seen, and I felt at home. My closest friends are those who not only like me, but who work with me through difficulties and differences to build something real. I see my children, despite some of their differences, reach toward each other for love and support. My husband and I are now moving into a new stage of life and it’s precisely because we hung on that we continue to learn from each other, to challenge each other, to comfort each other, and to love each other. To me, that is both the definition of love and of home.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye and Hello

Sunset

The turning of the year is for many a time of reflection – what has this last year brought to us; what are we leaving behind; what are we welcoming in the year ahead.  As I write this post, we are experiencing yet another wave of COVID-19 distress as the Omicron variant has become the dominant disease vector; we do not yet know enough about this variant to predict much about it other than that it is more contagious than the two prior variants – we hope it is less lethal.

This year for me has been a year of facing loss and mortality.  My brother, brother-in-law, sister and aunt all died of cancer this year – I am the oldest of five siblings, and these losses have really brought into focus the essential question that life presents to all of us.  Our time here is limited.  What do we choose to do with that precious time?

COVID prevented me from spending the time I would have wished with my brother and sister.  We were barely able to see Glenn a few weeks before his death – he was fighting hard to get to another clinical trial that held out so much promise, but his cancer was too far advanced.  My daughter and I flew to San Francisco and spent two precious days with him – just being together, talking, remembering.  When we left, we still were hoping for more time – but it was not to be.

Lindsay’s situation turned so quickly.  She was diagnosed in November of 2020, had surgery, and the extensive tumor was identified and removed.  She joined a clinical trial that worked so well until suddenly it didn’t.  In early June of 2021 she was hospitalized, and scans finally revealed that the cancer was back in all her internal organs.

Because Hawaii was so strict regarding COVID, when we learned that her time was short, we still had to have COVID tests within 72 hours of travel.  The only place in Nashville that gave the tests approved by the Hawaiian government was finally identified, and we flew on July 3.  Arriving at 2 in the afternoon, Lindsay, by this time in hospice at home, recognized us, welcomed us, but was not able to converse.  We were just together. During the night she became unable to respond, and in the early morning hours I talked to her, sang to her, told her it was ok to go.  She left us at 8:45 on July 4.

Three weeks later we said hello to a beautiful new granddaughter – Cora Lindsay.   Named after my sister, her great-aunt, this child carries hope into the world as a legacy of love.

The thread that binds all these experiences together is that legacy.  I am a fortunate person in that I grew up in a family that was and is bound together by love.  Although we have certainly had our struggles – no families in my experience do not have struggles – we got along (for the most part) and valued kindness.  Whatever I can say about my time on this earth, I can at least say that I gave and received love.  That is no small thing.

May you find ways in your own life to love.  The gift will return to you a thousand-fold.

Happy New Year.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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Hope at a Time of Despair

We’re a few days away from Christmas and it’s difficult to see signs of hope. 

We’re heading into another covid winter as infections and deaths again rise.  More than 800,000 Americans have already died from the covid virus.  Vaccines are widely available and medical evidence indicates that the unvaccinated are the ones dying now.  But too many people claim they have a Constitutional right to their “freedom” to refuse the vaccination. 

This argument distorts the Constitution.  Constitutional freedoms extend only to the point where one person’s rights infringe on the freedoms of others.  By claiming a right to reject the vaccine, anti-vaxxers increase the risk of infecting others, thus infringing on the Constitutional rights of others to live virus-free.  Anti-vaxxers also increase the likelihood that we will never reach herd immunity and that the virus will mutate into a form that is vaccine resistant.  

Unfortunately, the political and social disputes about covid and the vaccine are just the latest symptom of the twin diseases of political intolerance and violence.  Our country has a violent history. Therefore, it is disturbing to learn from recent surveys that around a quarter of Republican Party supporters believe it is acceptable to use violence to win political disagreements.   Meanwhile, the leftist fringe infecting the Democratic Party screams a message of tolerance through an intolerant program of “wokeness”.  Significantly, these pampered pooches haven’t agreed to give up one iota of their privileged, coastal-elite existence to bring their utopia to fruition.

Since no one is listening to each other and the few voices of reason have been drowned out by a sea of intolerance, there is a mad scramble to impose intolerance through the capture of the political process.  Too many states are passing “secure voting” laws that are designed solely to suppress the votes of people who are deemed politically and socially undesirable and inferior.  Virtually all the states are racing to create gerrymandered districts that will distort the outcome of elections over the next ten years.  Our Constitution stands in grave danger of becoming more useful as toilet paper.

So where do we find hope in this time of despair? History teaches us that intolerance eventually burns itself out due to its own excesses.  The Inquisition eventually ran out of victims to torture and murder in the name of God.  The American Civil War ended when the “secesh” states ran out of people to fight and die on the battlefield.  The covid pandemic will end when the virus runs out of people to kill.

My hope is that our country will reject intolerance sooner rather than later. My despair is that we value our lives and the lives of others so cheaply that we are willing to watch so many people die before our intolerance finally burns out.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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2021 Review

This is my last column for the year. Without sounding cliché, or like another broken record…What a year it has been! In fact, sometimes it still feels like one loooooong 2020. Still, the needle has moved a bit in some ways, and I traditionally like to spend some time reflecting

Professionally, it’s been a pretty good year. I started my job as Editor of my community’s Jewish newspaper in January of 2020 and basically had about six weeks before the world changed forever. So last year was a big learning curve with a lot of fear and panic peppered in as I maneuvered through all the changes. This year I know I grew more in confidence and in proficiency. I’ve had some very nice feedback from my colleagues in the community. And most satisfying has been the response from the readers who say I’ve made some nice changes in tone and direction. My goal has always been to bring people together through news and information and to create a truly community-based paper. I think I’m moving in the right direction. And I also challenged myself to learn to build and maintain a new website. As someone of a certain generation, some of this computer stuff is a mystery. BUT I focused hard and dove in and realized, I CAN do hard things! And I actually enjoy adding content and photos to the website and feeling empowered over more of my job.

Personally, this year has been a roller coaster. I’ve said goodbye again to two of my adult children who spent much of the past couple of years living both in our house and nearby. It was a lot of fun and a comfort to have them around. Now, with the nest empty once again, we’re enjoying the peace, the freedom, and the privacy. Our food and water bills are smaller. Our liquor cabinet remains well stocked. And our co-dependent labradoodle, Bentley, is filling the void with lots of attention to us.

2021 also gave us the vaccines and booster shots that will, hopefully, keep us alive should we contract COVID19. We continue to wear masks in crowds and my hands are raw from so much washing. I am more than grateful that so far, none of my family has been infected or gotten sick. And I pray that trend continues. I am saddened by the illness and death of others, and worried about our overburdened healthcare workers. Those brave souls, hailed as heroes early on during this siege, now often bullied and tormented by many who just refuse to believe what is in front of their eyes.

We’ve done some traveling, something I always found exciting and now I’m just anxious to get to my destination. We work to avoid too much contact with strangers and keep to ourselves. We have had some memorable and enjoyable experiences, though, and I consider myself very fortunate.

I think the biggest takeaway from this past year for me is the painful realization that our world is divided, and the divide is getting bigger. My Jewish values teach me that it is both incumbent upon each of us to do whatever is necessary to save our own lives, and that we are all responsible for each other. It’s the idea that we first put on our own oxygen mask (no pun intended), and then help those around us. The idea is not uniquely Jewish. And it is not uniquely American. I believe it is uniquely human.

So as 2021 comes to an end, I know I am forever changed by what we’ve experienced. Traumatized, but also emboldened. I don’t want to waste one precious minute or one ounce of energy. I want to recover my enthusiasm and courage. I want to clear away the clutter that litters my mind and heart.

The famous Jewish scholar, Rabbi Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

Cheers to 2021 and bring on ’22!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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A New American Tradition

Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving, an annual food fest for family and friends.  The cuisine reflects our diverse culture. Most of us will eat New World foods like turkey, squash and cranberries.  But the choices will vary from kosher to halal; from tacos and burritos to pickled red beets and pumpkin pie; from sweet and sour pork to chutneys and curries.

Thanksgiving is the most “American” holiday we celebrate. According to the accepted historical version, the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims sat down to a feast with Squanto and the Wampanoag Indian tribe. The meal was a celebration for the Pilgrims of surviving a hard year and recognition that they couldn’t have done it without the help of the Wampanoag.

Of course, that version is completely bogus because we know from historical records that the Pilgrims pushed the Wampanoag and neighboring tribes off the land through what today we call ethnic cleansing.  The tribes of New England, like all other tribes within the territorial borders of the U.S., were systemically decimated by wars and diseases. Indians didn’t become U.S. citizens until federal law changed in 1924.

So why bother celebrating Thanksgiving? 

Every country is held together by its common traditions.  Common traditions give us a point of reference to help us find our place in the world. In a huge, diverse country like America, common traditions had to be created from scratch.  Traditions created from scratch reflected what those with power at the time wanted to showcase; not how it really was. 

George Washington issued the first presidential proclamation calling for a celebration of thanksgiving.  No one asked if his slaves were invited.  Abraham Lincoln called for a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, when the Civil War wasn’t going well for the Union.

Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1942, less than a year after the Pearl Harbor attack.  No one mentioned that Japanese Americans had been unconstitutionally stripped of their property and rights as citizens and then required to prove their loyalty by sending their sons to fight in the war.  (For a real American hero, google “Senator Daniel Inouye”.)

But over time, countries evolve as circumstances change. What was once socially or politically acceptable is no longer so.  Now, the diversity of America’s people calls for a more nuanced view of our history and traditions.  The unpleasant truths behind the origins of Thanksgiving, and so much more in American history, can be acknowledged without damaging our country.

It’s time to create a new common tradition that is a more honest reflection of who we are and what we aspire to become. Our food choices already acknowledge our diversity.  Now, celebrate Thanksgiving by acknowledging the good and bad historical experiences of our diverse population.  An America without our diversity would be uninspiring and the food boring.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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The Other Side of the Couch – Are We There Yet?

Here & Now

Are We There YET?

I remember as a child taking car trips with my family – I was often buried in a book, but I know I must have asked that dreaded question many times – and I am equally sure that my younger siblings often did the same. Time passes differently in childhood. Days are endless; summers last forever, and it seems that Christmas will never come.

Time moves differently as we age. The rushing river of Time of which we are never outside becomes ever faster. The meandering pace of childhood picks up speed, and time passes in minutes as we grow older.

And yet that question remains – are we there yet? Have we reached our destination? The “there” changes over time, and yet it is still somewhere out there in the far distance. We are moving toward a horizon that always is just out of reach.

Have you considered what “there” is for you, and whether the possibility exists that you are already “there”? If we as humans are constantly focused on the next thing, that which is to come, we miss so much of what is here now.

If I have learned anything from these months of pandemic isolation, it is that now is what we have. The opportunity to slow down, pay attention, spend time with people I love has never been more present and essential, especially given that these months included the loss of beloved family members (my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and aunt – none to COVID, but gone nonetheless) – and the loss of a feline friend who gave us eighteen years of loving presence. We also received the gift of another precious granddaughter and the adoption of another feline friend.

Friends, “there” is a mirage – a desert oasis calling us away from the actual present. I hope that you can find ways to stay fully present with your life today. It really is a gift, and it is all that we have.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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Finding Hope

An emergency polio ward in Boston in 1955 equipped with iron lungs. These pressurized respirators acted as breathing muscles for polio victims, often children, who were paralyzed. www.apimages.com

When I graduated from college in 1979, the commencement speaker was none other than Dr. Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine. I don’t honestly remember much of what he said, but I do remember being in awe. You see my childhood and, for that matter, the childhood of my entire generation, was in large part defined by the polio epidemic. I recall hearing stories about children living in iron lungs. Former President Franklin Roosevelt used a wheelchair. And the father of one of my friends walked with a leg brace following a battle with the disease. A rite of passage was lining up with all the other pre-kindergartners and our parents and siblings to receive the oral polio vaccine in a sugar cube. I was excited to finally be ready for school. My mom cried because we would all finally be protected from the deadly virus.

Polio was finally declared eradicated in the United States in the 1990s. Still today’s children are vaccinated for polio along with mumps, measles, and rubella, among others. In most public-school districts, many summer camps, sports teams, and universities, proof of vaccination is a requirement for enrollment. Recent vaccine developments include meningitis and HPV which are recommended for teens and young adults heading off to college. I don’t recall anyone I know resisting these basic, preventative, yet miraculous scientific developments. I am aware there are some people who are fundamentally opposed to any and all vaccines for a variety of reasons. While I don’t agree with them and believe they are taking risks with their family’s health, I respect their conviction and support their decisions.

There have been many comparisons between the historic polio epidemic and the current COVID19 pandemic. Both are viruses, can be deadly, can lead to long term damage, and both can be eradicated by vaccine. So why is there so much confusion and controversy around the COVID19 vaccine? In an article in Discover Magazine, Carl Kurlander at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote, “Developing the vaccine was a collective effort, from national leadership by President Franklin Roosevelt to those who worked alongside Salk in the lab and the volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to be experimentally inoculated.” He goes on to add, “That was a time, said Salk’s oldest son, Dr. Peter Salk, in an interview for our film, when the public trusted the medical community and believed in each other. I believe that’s an idea we need to resurrect today.”

For the past year and a half, like many of us, I have felt the weight of so much pain and loss. I’ve been isolated, sad, lonely, disheartened, and disillusioned. When I was finally able to be vaccinated alongside my husband and two of my children, my daughter and I hugged each other and cried tears of relief and gratitude. I waited anxiously until my son in another state could be vaccinated. I continue to marvel at the rapid development of this life-saving vaccine and the ongoing development of treatments for the virus. But I am also angry. Angry at those who have turned the virus and the vaccine into a political cudgel, to be used on either side of the aisle. I am angry that in this time of unlimited potential for information sharing, there is so much misinformation being weaponized to further any agenda other than ending this scourge that continues to kill. In my darkest thoughts, I feel despair about what this means for the future of our country and of humankind, and I pray I am wrong.

I am not a pessimist. Most people who know me would say I am most definitely a cockeyed optimist, often not seeing the darkness in front of me. So, I will finish with something positive. Ann Frank famously said two things that give me hope.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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All I Wanted Was to Play the Sport I Loved

In 1972, women celebrated the enactment of Title IX which prohibits gender discrimination in any school or educational program receiving federal funds.  Suddenly, schools and universities were required to invest in sports programs for girls and young women.  Title IX opened the door for female athletes.

Because of Title IX, Pat Summitt led her teams to 1,098 wins, more wins than any other college basketball coach.  Many of her student-athletes turned pro after graduating and became stars in the brand-new WNBA.  

Because of Title IX, there were school programs that trained our gymnasts who went on to win dozens of Olympic medals. 

Because of Title IX, our colleges continue training soccer players who join our national women’s soccer team. The USWNT has won 4 World Cups, 4 Olympic gold medals, and 8 CONCACAF Gold Cups.  They are the world standard in women’s soccer.

Title IX isn’t perfect.  Women’s college sports still receive fewer resources than the men’s programs.  Women are still forced to wear obscenely sexist uniforms.  At the recent Olympics, a women’s volleyball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of the official uniform which looks like a g-string and pasties outfit for strippers.

Our national Olympic committee doesn’t appear to have noticed the shorts scandal, which isn’t surprising considering how they’ve handled the whole Dr. Nasser pedophile mess. Our Olympic committee spent years ignoring or discrediting the teen-aged gymnasts who reported Dr. Nasser’s sexual abuse of them. 

Now a similar scandal has erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).  A handful of players allege sexual improprieties against a widely respected coach. The players also allege that team owners and the sport’s governing authorities either ignored their allegations or leaned on them to keep their mouths shut for the good of the league and their careers. 

Why were these girls and young women ignored and discredited for years? Institutionalized sexism, reinforced with conservative religious teachings, assumes that females are always to blame because they “must have been asking for it” or they lured a hapless male into becoming a sex offender. Never mind that the male offender is often an authority figure who is violating his fiduciary and legal responsibilities, as well as common decency. 

Title IX was intended to bring an end to unequal treatment of girls and women in sports.  Almost 50 years later, that hasn’t happened but at least they are finally being heard.  Let’s hope this means the future is brighter because girls and young women deserve better when all they ever wanted was to compete in the sport they loved.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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