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Business Casual: Let’s Keep It Simple

Shortly after I arrived, the young woman who had spent a couple of hours in the ER the previous night was awake, thirsty and ready to watch her favorite videos on my phone. The high fever had subsided, and the new meds for her ear infection were kicking in.

She was a little subdued, but she was her fabulous two-year-old self, bright-eyed and positive: yes-or-no, like-it-or-don’t-like-it, happy-or-not-happy.

Her sleep-deprived parents were fine, too, trying to catch up on weekend chores and activities while grandma was there to help out.

It’s always worrisome – and often scary – when a little one is sick, but I am grateful that we were spared worry about whether this particular child would have good medical care, readily available. I want that for every child – and every parent and grandparent, for that matter.

No doubt reflecting the recent hours spent with my favorite two year old, I find I am thinking in fairly simplistic terms these days. I am hoping that with the long, rancorous presidential campaign behind us, some of the energy and effort that showed up for the election season can be channeled into finding solutions for problems badly in need of attention and resources.

I have come up my own wish list – simple, but not necessarily easy.

First of all, let’s make the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare, if you will – work for everyone. Fix it, adjust it, tweak it, refine it. Refine it some more. Let’s just figure out a way to make sure that sick people have the insurance they need to get the care they need – wherever they live, whatever their circumstances – and that the healthcare professionals and hospitals they depend on are available when they seek them out. That should be the starting point.

Let’s also make sure we do not let up on education, that we redouble our efforts to make schools work for the students and families that depend on them. Easy? No. Important? Yes, critically. The clock is ticking.

And while we are on the topic of education, let’s look at making college affordable.

Thanks to a lot of good work by a lot of good people, Georgia is fortunate to have a top-tier system of public colleges and universities, a first-rate network of technical colleges and some excellent private institutions. Let’s find a way to help the students who want and need the education they offer, so they won’t be saddled with soul-crushing debt once they graduate.

And could we please stop arguing about whether climate change is real? Let’s shift the discussion to how we get on with the task of trying to reverse or repair the damage that has been done to our planet and protect it from further harm. Technology is on our side; time is not.

There is a lot of work to be done, so let’s get rid of distractions like who uses which bathroom. Is that even a problem, for crying out loud?

And can we please double down on ridding ourselves and our society of discrimination – the obvious, the subtle, the insidious and especially the delusional notion that we can pretend prejudice is something other than what it is if we don’t acknowledge it. (“Of course I’m not prejudiced, but …”)

The state’s economy is recovering, almost booming in some sectors. Unemployment is down, and new jobs are being created. Let’s keep that momentum going and stay focused on what’s important.

Can we find a way to strengthen and support law enforcement and those who work in the field? Whether it’s more training, better pay, or a rethinking of some policing methodology, let’s work on it. We ask a lot of the officers whom we expect to show up, fully prepared and engaged, within two minutes of calling 911. We have to do our part.

I’d like to think we could also manage to enact some sensible gun legislation, revamp our criminal justice system and provide good, nutritious food to the children who lack it.

I hope that we can put an ugly chapter in our political system behind us and rediscover an ability to pull together.

There’s much to attend to, for the sake of the young woman in kitten pajamas I was watching Elmo videos with – and for her contemporaries. Let’s not waste any more time.

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