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Welcome Back to Stable Advocacy

Welcome back!  COVID was your ticket out. 

Welcome back!  To boundaries you never dreamt about.

Though the label changed from red before, life’s still risky as green’s in store. 

Who’d thought we’d wear masks, for daily public  tasks? 

If we complain a lot,  it’s ‘cause our trust feels shot.

Welcome back! Welcome back! Welcome back!

Earplugs won’t protect you from being contaminated by the tune and chorus earworm from John Sebastian’s hit song that introduced Gabe Kaplan’s TV comedy series.  If you are younger than a baby boomer, I am referring to “Welcome Back Kotter.”  It aired in prime time on ABC from 1975 to 1979.

Mr. Kotter, who once had been part of the school’s problem as a disruptive student, was welcomed back to teach at his alma mater.   The fictional James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn served an interracial population of lower-income teenagers, who were assigned to a classroom on the sixth story of a building with no air conditioning and poor ventilation.  They fit a stereotype of unmotivated  remedial students, who were proud to self-identify as “sweathogs.”   

The term sweathogs seemed OK when they used it among themselves, but not when applied as a label by others.  Mr. Kotter’s supervising principal, Mr. Woodman, who was present in the past when Kotter was a sweathog, advised Kotter that “The world is divided into two parts–  us and them. They’re them! And come to think of it, you’re them too.”  Kotter responded in a tone which imitated Groucho Marx, “Yeah? Well, thank you. That’s the nicest remark I ever hoid (heard).”

Finding solutions by stereotyping and sorting is ignorant and leads to failure.  Albert Brooks warns in his futuristic book “2030” that the next divide in America will be the two categories of the young and the old.  Are we seeing the beginning of that now?  Society has minimally invested to protect the lives of older people in nursing homes; and families are denied access to visit nursing home residents who await their certain death.  

The sweathogs were led by Vinnie Barbarino, portrayed by John Travolta in his first major role.  It was personal charisma, not political correctness, which empowered Vinnie Barbarino. who said, “I got my own idea of what God is like. I know he’s a sharp dresser. He’s good lookin’. And of course, he’s Italian.”

During the yellow stage, we experienced social protests which were hijacked by violent rioters. One mayor reacted to anarchical conditions by characterizing it as a “summer of love.” Meanwhile, criminals stole televisions, vandalized and burned small businesses, and shot both law enforcement officials and others indiscriminately.

One TV cable “news” channel reported that “blue state governors” have been unnecessarily holding back the American economy, while other cable “news” has reported that the President’s lack of leadership allowed the panic to spread.   Neither side cares to listen to the other.

It reminds me of a time forty years ago when I attempted to moderate a public discussion of a county’s proposed plan for use of a $3 million dollar federal block grant.  Hundreds of people were entirely focused on whether it would be appropriate to use $10,000 to fund a contraceptive clinic and “pregnancy counseling.”  I was stunned at my need to get between two pastors who  led opposite sides of this controversial issue.  At one point, one pastor actually struck the other with a Bible, while waving it to punctuate his opinion that he was speaking God’s truth and that the other pastor was blasphemous.

Many of us are now exhausted from isolation.   We feel cynical about being told that going to church or getting our hair cut would be too risky.  As we are bored at home and turn on the TV news, we see elected officials participating in protests that involve hundreds who are neither social distancing nor wearing masks.  What about COVID-19 is true and what is election year propaganda?

Now we are welcomed back to restaurants, hair salons, gyms, vacation destinations and full-time employment.  How will we respond?  Have we learned anything? Are we any better for having been shut down?

I am humbled that there are nearly always some wise people who will disagree with me, and sometime my viewpoint is in the minority.  But as a leader in giving voice to the issues of long-term care, I need to urge caution that COVID-19 is a real danger, at least for frail older persons who are vulnerable to contamination by family members or other caregivers who are not careful.   That’s why in our office we enforce the use of masks and gloves, social distancing, and other disciplines.

We do offer remote consultations and other remote services, but we now welcome back those who are able to get out of their home. COVID-19 underscores the need to get your estate planning affairs in order now, while you can.  Our office is a COVID-free and safe place.   If you want to see our COVID-19 policy, click the red banner on the first page of our website.

Most office workers agree that a positive outcome of COVID-19 is that we have been forced to improve our use of internet-based technology.  It is now easy to see others on device screens while meeting in “real time;” and it is easy to store and retrieve files electronically from a remote location.   Before COVID-19, we had barely scratched the surface to use the technology that we installed when we built our office a few years ago.  But that foresight now enables us to be well equipped and fully responsive.

Perhaps you met us before at a free seminar or otherwise.  Maybe you now regret that you left us last year, believing false rumors  which wrongly predicted the end of our organization.  Welcome back!

As we celebrate the ten year anniversary of our organization, there are three keywords that now best define us, more than ever before,  Mature.  Stable.  Team.   Welcome back!

Dave Nesbit, Attorney