Pandemic highlights what we take for granted

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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What The Bogota Post got right about America before COVID-19 rings just as true during the pandemic – maybe even more true.

In a May 2019 article, “The List of Things Americans Take for Granted,” the newspaper examined some of the freedoms and blessings that too many Americans forget they have.

Amid the pandemic – as we all get a taste of having some of our freedoms curtailed – perhaps it should be easier to remember how good we’ve had it.

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Free speech is one right we ought never take for granted.

“As we have seen recently in America, political tensions are running at an all-time high,” reported The Post. “But people are entitled to their opinion and in America, you can express this without fear of repercussions … .”

Some refer to our leaders with vulgar, crass expressions. Some make allegations about politicians that facts don’t support. Others – a regrettably small percentage – take the high road by making reasoned arguments about what they think of ideas or policies.

Whatever Americans say publicly or post on social media, nobody fears government hit squads kicking down their doors in the middle of the night.

Try that in many other countries and see what happens.

“In China, Thailand or, as has recently been seen in Hong Kong, expressing your political views, even in a diplomatic way, can lead to your imprisonment or even worse, the death penalty,” reported The Post.

Another right too many Americans take for granted is voting – choosing our government’s leaders and policies.

The integrity of the vote is central to a well-functioning republic. It lets us settle our differences at the ballot box, not on the battlefield.

Our two-party system has its flaws, but, said The Post, “some countries have a one-party system where you can only vote for candidates who stand for that party. Other countries don’t even (have) an illusion of democracy – they have a dictator in charge and his or her word is what makes the law.”

Comparing the U.S. to developing countries, The Post noted that clean tap water and abundant electricity are taken for granted. Both result from the freedoms that unleash massive wealth creation. Our economic horsepower funds massive projects that deliver power and drinking water across our great land.

Before COVID-19 did a number on our economy, some Americans took abundant jobs for granted. Our robust free markets enable entrepreneurs to innovate, creating jobs that enable millions to thrive.

Earlier generations were happy just to have a good-paying job. Today’s Americans can choose paths that are meaningful to them. Don’t like what you’re doing? Try something else – open a restaurant, start an online business, get training for the job you want.

The Post article captures well the great irony of America: The better off we become, the more we complain about how bad things are.

“Americans often take for granted these freedoms and privileges and with social media and a consumerist society it is easy to feel unhappy with what you haven’t got rather than what you have got.”

Exactly. COVID-19 is temporarily restricting some of our freedoms and blessings. Let’s make sure they’re fully restored when that challenge has ended.

Let’s make sure we preserve them for future generations to fully experience and appreciate.

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous memoir available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated.