By Steven Aguilu
This is a thank you letter. It is a letter of appreciation to our government, to all the millions of people who have helped keep the machinery of a complex nation functioning in the face of complex problems and even more complex and often unreasonable demands.
After a sad era of disdain, our people in uniform are once again revered. Every day they hear "Thank you for your service." This is good. It rewards them for the heart they have invested in our safety and security.
Yet, for some very deliberately orchestrated reasons, the opposite has happened for you, our civilian service members. Over the last 40 years, you have been increasingly vilified and defunded. You have been portrayed as overpaid, over-benefitted, inefficient, rude and uninterested in the missions that you are called to do.
This has been completely counter to my experience. From the federal fisheries people in watershed and wildlife department meetings to the polite young woman from the IRS who audited my taxes, I have never met a single one who seemed to have personal or political ambitions beyond being good stewards.
Department of Education: Thank you for making my public education better, for working to assure that we all learn facts that are facts. Thank you for plucking so many of my cohorts from one economic stratum to the next.
Department of the Interior: Thank you for caring for our nation's playground. Places where we can ponder the greatness of our earth and the people who found their homes in its wilderness, where the American character can hear itself in the silence of great spaces.
Department of Health and Human Services: Thank you for being trustworthy and unbiased guides in taking care of my patients; for making sure that vaccines are available and safe; for reaching into the dark corners of medical ignorance and fear with education and services.
Environmental Protection Agency: For helping to keep our water drinkable, our air breathable and for fighting on the 'new' front of manmade climate change. There is no right- or left- wing politics when contemplating the massive famines and displacement that will occur in the future. Thank you for your courage to stand up to the ever-blowing gales of commercial forces that seek to undo our protections. "Regulations" is just an ugly way of saying "rules," but rules are what keep us from poisoning our world and our bodies.
To all the other public servants, I thank you.Share your opinion Submit your essay of 500 words or less to email@example.com. Please include your email and phone number for verification.
Finally, I call upon the people of our government to step forward in the coming years. If your new bosses will listen, teach them. If they ask you to do something wrong, something that is not in the best interests of our nation, speak up!
I know you have families and mortgages and health care to pay for, but we will match your courage with dollars, and crowd-fund your legal defense. And if they fire you en masse, we should help you set up private watch-dog institutions to continue the missions that you have now.
You are our heroes too. Thank you for your service.
Steven Aguilu is a family physician, writer and musician. He lives in Northeast Portland.
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