By Jessica Kozma Proctor
Our everyday lives have been flooded with messages about “uncertain” times. But you can’t have uncertainty without certainty. Let’s flip uncertainty back over.
A first “certainty” in a time of uncertainty is that in every crisis comes opportunity. What we do with the opportunities before us now will bridge our present to our future. If we build a strong enough bridge, we very well may be able to leave our children a world of which we can be proud.
Indeed, the years ahead will provide the best opportunity ever to craft and implement transformative, well-founded public policy. The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate or play favorites. Yet its tangled net has touched a breadth of social, economic and constitutional issues and responsibilities.
Unquestionably, many issues long trapped at the intersection of the public good versus corporate gain and sustainability will certainly be reexamined in the years to come.
The global lock down has quickly begun reversing the impacts of climate change. We now know we can proactively slow the advancement of climate change. We’re living proof. We’re seeing how detrimental the contamination of our planet is, because we’re also seeing how consequential it is when we no longer pollute. Smoggy cities like Los Angeles and Manila now have clear skies. Dolphins have returned to the once noxious canals of Venice, Italy. That our world’s air is improved by a respiratory virus is a menacingly poetic irony worth remembering.
With an almost overnight shift to a digital economy and virtual education, there has never been a greater impetus to finally figure out how to expand broadband to all pockets of our state.
Rural broadband could beat the heart of North Carolina’s rural and agrarian communities, sprouting improved commerce, education, community, public health including mental health; broadband could become a conduit for desperately needed telemedicine. Telemedicine would significantly improve access to care in our state’s 80 rural counties.
Like rural America, rural North Carolina consistently suffers with higher rates of disease, obesity and mental illness. Health care policy will be forever impacted by the pandemic. If we use this crisis as a cautionary tale, we can not only decrease mortality if another pandemic arrives, we can improve health outcomes for people across all of North Carolina.
The current interpretation of our First and Second Amendment rights, both of which are very much in play right now, will provoke thoughtful discussion among academic, legal and legislative circles for decades to come.
Whether you feel our rights have been pushed to the limit or not, there is opportunity for us all to contemplate and be reminded how powerful these rights are. In addition, we must consider how fragile our rights could become if inept or self-interested leadership were coupled with a critical event, like the pandemic we’re in right now.
Decreased crime. Increased kindness. We’re improving our world, literally, from inside our own homes to outside in our communities. We’re creative right now. We’re aware, and we’re listening.
So, let’s stop saying we’re in “uncertain times,” and build a future of certainty.
Jessica Kozma Proctor is a Capital Tonight panelist and founder and managing director of North State Solutions, a Raleigh-based public and political affairs firm.