essential: absolutely necessary; indispensable.
As the Covid-19 crisis drags on, each time I find my patience wearing thin, I try to remember to ask myself: When did I most recently pause to acknowledge my gratitude for or show my appreciation to the essential people who have been helping me prop up my daily life since mid-March? When was the last time you paused to do this?
Because I'm flawed, this strategy works some days better than others. But lately my reflections on the word essential have been shifting. What do you imagine when thinking of someone indispensable? Put another way, how likely are you to think of a hedge fund manager as absolutely necessary? How about your favorite sports star? A corporate lawyer?
Now before the uber-capitalists, sports fans, or anyone who spent hard years getting through law school comes for my blood, let me clarify: All of those people deserve to make a living wage, enough to provide food, shelter, and clothing for themselves and their loved ones. Still, consider this: Don't the folks who empty bed pans and stock the supermarket shelves, you know, the essential people we're all depending on these days, deserve the same?
I'm not talking about a fair wage, or equitable pay, or even proportionately equivalent remuneration for all working people. Although that would be fine with me, were I to advocate any of those things, the dreaded "S" word would soon be hurled my way. But if other essential workers - e.g. police and fire personnel, nurses, doctors - can live comfortably raising a family on what they earn, isn't it reasonable for nurse's aides and supermarket cashiers to do so? If your answer to that question is "no, that's not reasonable" please explain it to me. Treat me like a dunce; I promise I won't get offended.
In the meanwhile, thank you again essential workers, for helping the rest of us to get through this.