Pandemic Values and A Story Rarely Told

Adjusting with Better Behavior

Americans have for the most part coped these months of social distancing with understanding and cooperation. This has resulted in flattening the curve and bringing the time of reopening society much closer; we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Early in the year, the news media focused on individuals that hoarded toilet paper, and spring breakers flocking to Florida beaches. Thanks to social media outrage and legal intervention, these isolated acts of bad behavior have mostly disappeared. In fact, we have all agreed that the brave men and women that continue to work in essentials jobs are society’s unsung heroes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have recognized our front-line workers with varied acts of appreciation. We have drawn large “thank you” signs, delivered hot food to hospital staff, and volunteered to help others. Even the Navy-Blue Angels and Airforce Thunderbirds conducted a joint flyover in the sky over New York City to salute our healthcare workers and first responders, military, and other essential personnel.

Thank You to Essential Workers in Fight Against Covid-19

Yet, bad behavior does continue, and the current problem is more serious. There have been news reports of security guards being attacked for insisting that customers don face masks while shopping. In Flint, Michigan, three members of a family have been charged in the shooting death of a security guard who was trying to enforce the face-covering policy.  In Austin, Texas a man was arrested for allegedly pushing a park ranger into a lake after the ranger advised that they stay 6 feet apart. 

We Still Have Some Bad Actors

The other problem that we need to be cognizant of during the pandemic is that scammers and criminals are putting us in jeopardy.  The increased volume of the public buying imported masks and other protective gear online has resulted in the discovery of counterfeit and/or defective products. 

The Wall Street Journal has quoted Steve Francis, the director of ICE’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. Government agencies have found that a dangerous percentage of imported protective gear does not meet the minimum certification standards. 

“It poses a serious health concern to the American public when they are wearing face masks that they think have the protection of N95 masks but are really substandard.”

This government agency working in cooperation with private companies have identified almost 20,000 questionable and suspicious COVID-19-related domain names.  

The private companies that have partnered with Homeland Security include 3M Co.,, and Pfizer Inc. Private and government sectors are working together to identify the bad actors and take down their websites.  3M, which manufactures the N95 masks has filed numerous lawsuits and Homeland Security has over 300 ongoing investigations and has made about a dozen arrests to date.

Lev Kubiak, who is the chief security officer for Pfizer Inc. stated that

“This information-sharing effort allows the government to then make more informed decisions about targeting suspicious international shipments.”

This is serious because Pfizer is one of the companies that is in the process of developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Integrity and honesty are lessons that must be learned and practiced each day. I am not so naive to believe that this type of criminal behavior does not happen. Nevertheless, it is still disappointing to recognize this nefarious activity and to contrast this type of behavior with the way it could be. 

A Man Who Lived by His Values

There are so many ways during an emergency or when everyone is trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, to take advantage of a situation.  We need to dig deep and realize that now more than ever we need to stand by our values and hold tight.

Here is a short story of a man who lived by his values and did not want to give the impression of possible impropriety.  He had everything to gain by not.

I recently read about John Owen (August 1787-October 9, 1841).  He was born in North Carolina, the son of Thomas Owen, a judge, and member of the state legislature. Following in his father’s footsteps, John Owen was elected the 24th Governor of North Carolina and served from 1828 to 1830. He then became the president of the National Whig Convention that selected William Henry Harrison as the Whig candidate for president of the United States, to run against the Democrat.

William Henry Harrison asked John Owen to be his running mate and join the ticket as the vice-presidential candidate. John Owen felt he could not accept the honor because he believed that the public would think he was being dishonest. As the leader of the Whig party Owen was responsible for certifying the presidential ticket, and how would it look if he certified himself as the vice-presidential candidate? He declined the offer, for that reason. 

William Henry Harrison was elected as the 9th president of the United states and died about a month after taking office from pneumonia. Had Owen accepted the offer and the position of vice president, he would have become the 10th president of the United States.

Owen was quoted to have said that he never regretted his decision, not even for a moment. The man who would have been president of the United States believed that doing what was right in his eyes was the ultimate priority.

Pandemic or not – be true to yourself and always be proud of your actions.  

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