We’re forced to be, because our government has failed mount an adequate response COVID-19; meanwhile our cities burn and police assault the very citizens that fund their existence
At no point in my life have I felt less heroic than the last five months. And yet, on or about March 2020, people began calling me a hero. I struggle to describe how angry this makes me.
Make no mistake, as a physician, I’m grateful that the public recognizes the tireless and heartbreaking sacrifices of health care workers. In calling someone a hero, one conjures an image of courage, perseverance, honor. But the rhetoric of heroism is more complex. When some leaders call health care workers heroes, they abdicate responsibility; they displace their duty to serve and protect and instead rhetorically suggest that heroes alone decide victory or defeat.
During this moment of devastation and uncertainty and horror, our characteristic American patriotism has (finally) expanded to include our health care system. Meanwhile our cities burn and our militarized police forces teargas, beat and jail the very citizens that fund their existence and denounce their brutality.