IT IS THE DARKEST BEFORE DAWN..
To say that this year has been filled with chaos, tragedy and despair is an understatement. In spite of vast technology and wealth, our nation was humbled by an invisible attacker. A scourge that afflicts without bias has ravaged communities across the planet. It brought out the best in people — and it brought out the worst.
Frontline workers, teachers and scientists worked past exhaustion. Over 7000 health care workers—including 3000 nurses—have succumbed to COVID-19 worldwide, almost a third of them in the US. Business shuttered, festivals and holidays are cancelled, and zoom has become a verb, noun and adjective.
Thousands have spent their final moments, not holding the hands of loved ones, but holding a lifeless screen that can neither give comfort nor wipe away tears. In the midst of all this misery we have become so numb to the pain that when we hear the expression “a 9/11 every day for weeks”, we barely flinch. We have not lost our humanity, but some may have forgotten what it is to be human. To think of not just “me” but “us”.
In this holiday season of love, we are being given a second chance, a do-over of sorts. Vaccines are being rapidly deployed, the result of monumental cooperation between scientists across the globe. I was lucky to receive my first shot this week. I am pleased to report that the side effects I experienced were gratitude, euphoria and an optimism that the light of dawn is almost here. As a health care worker who has seen the ravages of this pandemic up close, I encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated.
Many of us have heard conspiracy theories being peddled about the safety of these vaccines. I will not go into why good people fall victim to the words of charlatans, but I will share a parable that applies: In the Pacific Northwest, giant redwood trees can grow as tall as 350 feet. Surprisingly, their roots are often only 5-6 feet deep. They can grow this tall despite their shallow roots because each tree’s roots interlock and weave together with those of neighboring trees, creating thick, underground groves of communal support extending up to hundreds of feet from the base of any one tree. They depend on each other just like we depend on each other.
This chance we are being given in the form of a vaccine will not work unless we all come together. At least 70% of us must be vaccinated in order for the virus to stop spreading easily among our communities. Please talk to your doctor if you have genuine concerns about being vaccinated — rather than listening to a TV talking head or a Facebook post. We have suffered through this together and we can only overcome this together.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
Dr. Mohammad Zeeshan Qamar