As I sit to write these words, 34 million Americans have become unemployed over the last 7 weeks—that’s 1 in every 5 workers.
Such pain, heartache, anxiety… I am so sorry for each of you.
Along the way, a new conversation began emerging in public discourse and policy: essential workers and non-essential workers.
Who is an essential worker and who is a non-essential worker? Which businesses and industries are essential and which are not?
Medical experts and political leaders debated these phrases in countless communities around the world—often times arriving at drastically different conclusions.
Regardless of how they ended classifying work in their jurisdiction, “essential” workers were allowed to continue, “non-essential” were asked to stay home.
I fear the fall-out from this type of designation and how “essential” workers have been heralded and praised in every community, while many “nonessential” workers have lost their livelihood at these seemingly arbitrary designations. In some cases, the work being accomplished was identical.
Let me offer some thoughts if you are hurting.
First of all, if you are an essential worker and have been putting yourself out there for our society, thank you. If you have been stocking shelves, driving trucks, packing food, or responding first, thank you for the incredibly hard work and extra hours you have been putting in over the last 7-8 weeks.
But equally important, if your work or business has been classified as nonessential, please know your work is essential to us—even if not classified as such by some.
In almost every case, your work is needed, your talent is appreciated, and your dedication to serving others is required for all of us. Your work, by definition, makes us a better people and a better society. You are essential. And I hope you are back to work soon.
If you think the rush for toilet paper was bad, wait until 300 million Americans try to schedule a haircut at the same time.
And lastly, please know, your work may have been deemed nonessential, but your life is not. You are essential to somebody, every day.
So make the most of every opportunity:
- Care for your body and health.
- Love your spouse.
- Spend time with your children.
- Call your neighbors and friends and extended family.
- Serve the less fortunate.
- Foster your faith.
- Offer hope and life to everyone you see.
You are important. You are essential to someone. And no one can take that away from you.