Like everyone else I am tired of the pandemic, the chaos, the fighting and division in our country. Somehow we have not been able to come together as a nation and that saddens me to the point of tears. We have been unwilling to set aside political strife in the common interest of stopping the spread of Covid-19 by whatever means possible. In many ways our response to the virus has been tainted by the same tendencies that have left us unable to honestly face the evils of slavery and racism from the very beginnings of our nation. We want to look away from difficult topics and go about our business as though there are no problems. We speak of our rights and our greatness and our goodness as though they are givens with no exceptions. We allow both the virus and our history to fester until they are out of our control. Then we demand quick fixes without ever answering hard questions or demonstrating a openness for healing our people by sacrifice and the sharing of our burdens.
There have been many mistakes in the handling of our response to Covid-19 and they are not limited to one individual or group. We started out well but were overly anxious to rid ourselves of safety measures that sometimes felt draconian. We listened to people who wanted to believe that if we just risked a bit of exposure we would still be okay. We believed that we had to get back out into the world as quickly as possible, so even though the virus hit our shores later than Europe we opened back up while they were still taking a conservative approach to relaunching normalcy. The results have been disastrous for our country and all of the wishing and explaining away the reasons why it happened cannot change that fact. Magical thinking simply does not work.
We admittedly still do not totally understand Covid-19 and for that reason we should be handling it with caution rather than attempting to convince ourselves that it is little more than a new form of flu. We fill our minds with conflicting theories in the hopes of finding the one that makes us feel good. We push everyone to accept what we personally believe when the truth is that the only thing certain about this virus is its uncertainty.
Those who have mostly been unaffected by Covid-19 believe that we have over-reacted to its danger. They are puzzled by the fear of those who are more circumspect. When spikes in the number of cases occur they explain them away. Somehow the virus has yet to become real to them and so they flaunt their liberties and urge the rest of us to follow their lead. They ask us why we can’t be happy about their good news that there is nothing about which to worry.
So too are we divided on the issue of civil unrest in our society. Many believe that it is much ado about nothing. They believe that our nation should have gotten over the ills of slavery and racism long ago. They view the current protests and discussions as an unnecessary stirring of a pot whose purpose is to destroy the country and its principles. They cannot see that much of the rhetoric is coming from our divider in chief, the President of the United States. Rather than genuinely hearing the voices that are crying out for understanding his approach is to poke fun and bully anyone who disagrees with his point of view. He rids himself of anyone who does not walk in lockstep with his thinking and so those who should be leading us are afraid of him. Therein lies the greatest problem that we face. Blind allegiance to his dictatorial style has left us floundering while other countries are showing signs of recovery.
Politics led to the revolution that created this country. Politics influenced the writing of our Constitution. Politics left slavery in place with the fanciful hope that politics would sooner rather than later rid our nation of its stain. Instead we have been engaged in a long and painful journey to once and for all time attain the ideals of our country. Sadly politics continue to get in the way of finding a semblance of that perfection. Politics should not, however, be reason for fighting over how to care for our people during this pandemic.
There is much that must be done and it will require concerted and collegial effort on everyone’s part to pull ourselves out of the mess that we have made thus far. Our children will be returning to school in a matter of weeks and yet we continue to quibble over how to safely accomplish that goal. We still have millions among us who are unemployed who are wondering where they will live and how they will eat when the money runs out. The questions of civil justice still loom large and we cannot simply and quickly fix the problems that have roots from as long ago as 1619, when the first slaves were brought to our shores.
We have no time to lose. We have to get to work with or without our elected officials. Long ago our founding fathers took on a king who was taking his people for granted. They created an imperfect nation that has the potential to rise above its mistakes. I can think of no better time than the present to do what we must surely know what is best for all.