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COVID-19 exposes that all Americans are NOT created equal

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- Every day of this crisis, as I watch news footage of brave and selfless health care workers on the frontlines, often with tears in my eyes, the same thought pops into my head:

Tell me again why we don't pay emergency room nurses $1 million per year, and let hedge fund managers, defense contractors, and investment bankers go on food stamps.

The same goes for middle-aged pop stars with dubious parenting skills. Yes, Justin Timberlake, I'm glaring at you.

In any civilized society -- one whose priorities are straight -- the rule should be: The more you contribute to society, the more you get in return. If you're only out for yourself, then you're out in the cold.

We need to take better care of those who take such good care of us. From now on, when someone graduates from nursing school in this country, the U.S. government should immediately pay off all their student loans. That's one way to say: "Thank you!"

If there is one thing that COVID-19 has revealed, it's that -- in this land of the free where, as Thomas Jefferson wrote so long ago that, "All men are created equal" -- Americans are not equal. We're not even close.

 

Human beings don't have the same qualities, values, and character. We don't have the same degree of courage, virtue, compassion, or generosity. Some folks are just better people. There should be some way of recognizing -- and rewarding -- the good in those who have it, and not wasting our adoration on those who have merely acquired wealth and fame.

Somewhere along the line, Americans went off track with the concept of hero worship.

In the 20th Century, school kids casually tossed around the word "hero" to describe professional athletes like baseball player Mickey Mantle, football player Joe Namath, or boxer Muhammad Ali.

Then came the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, and first responders finally got some respect. Police officers, paramedics, firefighters and other real heroes charged into the flames of the rubble that was once the World Trade Center. They ran into danger while others ran away from it. Soon professional baseball players were wearing caps honoring New York's police officers and firefighters.

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