Praise and False Piety
From an article by a nurse in British Columbia (read the whole thing, etc., etc., Internal links omitted):
In some cases, the efforts of nurses and doctors have been called heroic, especially in hot spots such as Italy and New York City. In March, my own neighbourhood adopted an evening ritual of cheering for front-line health workers fighting the pandemic. Police and ambulance vehicles form a flashing procession past my city’s hospital.
I’m definitely not one of the heroes. The pandemic struck when I was on maternity leave. I’m due back imminently, but as a hospital nurse educator, not as a frontline caregiver. Plus, lacking daycare (which was shuttered), I’ve elected to delay my return to work by several weeks.
I’ve seen at least one doctor tweet that she’d prefer to stay home. And I sometimes visit online forums where nurses and doctors share similar thoughts. Responses are not universally supportive. There’s a narrative that says that doctors and nurses must “answer the call.” That’s why I’m uneasy about the nightly cheering sessions. Some of us don’t feel like trying to become heroes. Yes, I have a few colleagues who would volunteer to travel to Africa to treat an Ebola outbreak. But they’re in the minority.
We praise people for doing things we’d condemn them for not doing. We’d be cads if we didn’t praise, but by praising, we’re exerting pressure on them to place themselves in danger.
Photo credit: Dormeur du Val – Arthur Rimbaud – Exposition Les désastres de la guerre 1800-2014 – Musée Louvre-Lens. Photo: Yann Caradec. Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. (CC BY-SA 2.0).