In gratitude to the nurses, doctors, and other health-care providers who watch over us during this time.

In gratitude to the grocery store workers, the delivery people, and the warehouse employees who keep essential goods flowing to our homes.

In gratitude to the restaurant owners, chefs, and employees who provide delicious, nourishing food.

In gratitude to the EMTs, firefighters, and police officers who put themselves on the front lines addressing this crisis.

I have so much gratitude to all of these people and more who risk their own health and that of their families in doing their parts, so the rest of us can do our part, which is to stay home and physically distanced from others.

Sometimes gratitude can simply be an emotional exercise — I feel a certain way toward you because you did something for me or others. But in this case, our gratitude needs to be backed by a moral force. To live out this moral gratitude, we must express all of its aspects: emotional, mental, and physical. We must feel the feelings, but we also must understand our connections, and how we exist in reciprocal relationships with one another. We must speak the words of respect and support, but we also must offer policies of respect and support — living wages, sick leave, health care — and the finances to support those policies. To live our moral gratitude, we must make our emotional expression both physical and concrete.

So until we are ready to fulfill all of these aspects of gratitude, I don’t want to hear us offering our thanks. Because feeling the feelings without taking the actions was never appropriate. Now it is clear that it is a moral failure.

Let us live out true thanks, true gratitude, and take the actions that naturally flow from our feelings. Let us express our moral gratitude in emotions, in thoughts, in policies, in finances. Let us be truly and completely grateful.

Jim Schwartz

Oak Park

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