By Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Those of us who attend liturgical churches have just celebrated our churches’ New Year’s Day with the start of Advent Season. Happy New Year! Advent is a time for looking back with the resolve to do better as we move forward, forward from the Year of Our Lord 2021 to next year, 2022. Advent is both a season of repentance and a season of promise.
The year 2021 has been the second year of the 21st Century plague COVID-19, and almost certainly not the last. This past week saw two consecutive days with over 1000 South Carolinians contracting the disease, having avoided that milestone the entire month of November, a milestone reminiscent of the worst days of the pandemic. With more than 921,000 cases here since the pandemic began, COVID-19 is certainly not over. But unlike last Advent, this year there is something we can do about it: we can all get vaccinated, those of us over age five and medically healthy. Our state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, barely over 50%. The only way this pandemic is going to end without hundreds of thousands more South Carolinians becoming sick and many of them dying, is for all of us who are physically able to do so, to get vaccinated. With COVID-19’s omicron variant now beginning to spread like wildfire, we will likely be asked once again to don masks to avoid passing the vaccine to each other – especially the 49+% of us who have yet to be fully vaccinated. If that call comes, we need to do so – and to encourage other people to do the same, vaccinated or not.
Advent is also the season for looking forward, and there is good news on the horizon. The nation’s unemployment rate is only 4.2%, the lowest it has been since well before COVID-19, and it is headed lower still. There are jobs everywhere, and employers are of necessity bidding up the pay of our South Carolina work force at a rate exceeding the inflation rate. Yes, this does make things cost more; but think of those among us who are at the bottom of the pay scale, and how their life becomes better as their real pay increases. We are the most prosperous nation in the world, even during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis; we can afford to pay more to those Americans, and especially those South Carolinians, who need it the most.
As December passes by way too quickly, we should remember that we are asked to do several things this month and always. Feed the hungry, through food banks and providing meals. Provide shelter for the homeless by supporting refuge centers and supporting low-income housing, in and around all our neighborhoods. Clothe those who lack the ability to keep themselves and their families warm. Heal the sick, including providing quality health care to those who would go without, if we don’t help. And welcome the stranger, including those fleeing violence, deprivation, and oppression in countries that they can no longer call their home.
One thing we can all agree on this season: Christmas is coming! As we work our way through introspection andresolving to do better today than yesterday, and better still tomorrow than today, let us all celebrate together.
Happy Advent season!