The vaccine bone’s connected to the carbon bone…

Dear President Biden,

You know that song about how the toe bone is connected to the foot bone? It’s variously called “Dem Bones,” “The Skeleton Song,” or “Dry Bones”. Well, back when we lived in Albuquerque and had our most wonderful dog, Barbara the Doberwoman :), Laura used to sing that song to her with the following twist:

the hipbone’s connected to the back bone
the back bone’s connected to the neck bone,
the neck bone’s connected to the head bone,
the head bone’s connected to the jawbone,
the jawbone’s connected to the Milk Bone.

Every time she sang it, we both cracked up and then pondered how we could get Milk Bones on board with using it in an ad. We never did pursue that (rather silly) commercial angle, but every now and again, we’ll pull the jingle out for bemusement purposes and to reminisce about our favorite dog gal.

Well, today the song came to me as I was thinking about the wisdom of seeing – and acting on – the connections between global issues. Specifically, for the life of me I can’t figure out why you haven’t already stepped in to help India and various of the African and Central and South American nations with COVID vaccines – in a big way. I know there’s some COVID-related assistance possibly, maybe in the offing, but it feels to me like you’ve squandered a critically important opportunity to build good will, to earn chits that could be used later, and to reduce the chances that those countries will look to China and Russia for such resources.

Breaking it down further, I think the vaccine bone is connected to the carbon bone. Seriously. If we were stepping up and helping countries that are struggling to manufacture and deliver vaccine to their people rather than appearing selfish and insular (much like your nefarious predecessor acted, by the way) we would be in a much, much better position when it comes to negotiating with other countries about reducing their greenhouse gas emissions down the proverbial road.

This is on a way, way smaller scale, but a few of us were talking the other day about how much more apt we are to listen to messages from leadership when there’s a mix of messages – some that are validating and appreciative, some that convey they “get us” and are concerned about our well-being, some that tell us how they are advocating for us, and some that are prescriptive or corrective. If it’s only the latter, it just feels scoldy and off-putting whereas if there’s already some good will built up, we’re more likely to take the correctives in stride and see them as reasonable.

I know, it’s pretty damn basic. Management 101, or something like that.

I’m sure you’ve got dozens of way smarter and more experienced people giving you advice about how to manage being the leader of the free (for now) world, but it might be time to boil things down to basics – the vaccine bone is connected to the carbon bone. It’s simple. It may not be easy, but it is simple. And it’s critical to get it right.

May we be safe and sound down to our bones.
May we be willing to see how vitally interconnected we all are.
May we have the strength to share even when it is politically risky.
May we accept that if we fail in this, things are not likely to go well for any of us.

Tracy Simpson

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