BEYOND: Giving Thanks to Essential Workers


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November, a time traditionally known for reflection and gratefulness, has finally arrived. In spite of the heavy nature of the world, this month brings upon us an unmatched presence of gratitude among the majority. Many people are simply thankful to have survived the turmoil of this year. Though November is the time of Thanksgiving for varying life sectors, reflecting on the events of the past few months can quickly become dark. Nonetheless, with the ever-winding, rocky road that is 2020, there are still a few things to bring attention to and express appreciation for. Of the very specific pool of thankfulness, one very honorable mention is the undeniable work of the essential workers during this year.

            Popularly adopted in March, the term “essential worker” took upon a new emphasis and connotation. Careers that were originally considered to be essential were broadened and dynamically changed in a way no one would have foreseen. Along with first responders, medical doctors and nurses, people working in grocery stores, delivery service and post offices were now shifted to the forefront of importance. The consensus of what people consider to be “essential” – indeed, what it means to be essential – has vastly differed in the past.

            Before the occurrence of untimely events, workers now considered essential were often underappreciated for their work. Employees in various grocery stores, for example, were of the most undermined and often mistreated in the refined group of essential workers. The work of postal workers was far underestimated. Reliance on healthcare workers skyrocketed unequivocally. Previously, these groups of workers had been widely subjected to ridicule and lack of appreciation, but the paradigm shift made clear just how heavily the country depends on such labor to keep many everyday ways of living afloat.

            Promptly after turmoil began to unfold, essential workers became the bread and butter of regulating necessity with urgency. Given that the trajectory of emergency was rather swift, essential workers quickly acclimated to the change in a way that was beneficial. Handling workloads that required the satisfaction of high volumes of sporadic, distressed patrons is not a job many are cut out for. The strenuous and long hours essential workers take on does not go without saying, and should not be glanced over. Undoubtedly, the virtues of being determined and gallant are critical for the state of the world. Such work gave the country a semblance of stability in a time of utter disarray. To turn a blind eye to the great aid which resulted would be misguided.

            To say that essential workers have received some acknowledgment throughout the past eight months would be an understatement. Overflowing admiration and appreciation for essential workers has been a consistent theme of this year. People have finally become reformed and enlightened regarding the difficulties and strain of emotional and physical labor, due to being an essential worker. In some places, like New York City, several moments of consistent applause and cheering took place in support of essential workers. Furthermore, many users of social media have opted to actively lend a helping hand by donating to the pressing needs of essential workers.

            While it is easy for one to state that essential workers sacrificed their lives for the wellbeing of others, it is equally important to refrain from perceiving such workers as sacrificial pawns. The livelihood of essential workers also depends on the commitment to their work. The unrequited services provided by these workers garners a much different reality than one distant from the frontlines. Consistently appreciating and formally thanking essential workers for the plight of their responsibilities should become habitual, arguably beyond catastrophic circumstances.

            Essential workers are far from a fleeting trend. They are everyday people whose lives are just as essential as their labor. Simultaneously, essential workers assist in maintaining a functioning country and that is a reason to be grateful. This Thanksgiving, give thanks to an essential worker. Without them, the reflected atmosphere of today would appear drastically different.

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