My mama would never forget the calm that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor brought to the American people during World War II. She often spoke of gathering around the radio to listen to updates, encouragement and calls for a national effort from the president. She quite proudly outlined the many sacrifices that citizens made and the overall unity of purpose that spread across the land. She would get quite emotional when describing how things were and she always ended such remembrances with tears as she described how she felt when President Roosevelt died.
My mother also held up Eleanor Roosevelt as an exemplar of womanhood. I suppose that I grew up admiring this wonderful First Lady because of my mom’s influence. Mama told me about Ms. Roosevelt’s intelligence and compassion. I would later learn even more about this remarkable woman in books and documentaries. She was the favorite niece of Theodore Roosevelt and her influence on her husband and our country was profound.
I’ve had a fascination with the era of World War II when my mother was still just a teenager. My interest in life during that time only increased when my mother-in-law told me stories that added to my knowledge of the incredible efforts made by ordinary people to help in the battle against Germany and Japan. In the face of early losses the American people remained determined to support the Allied Forces even if it meant enduring great privation.
I suppose that I have always believed that the American people are living heroes and people of great selflessness and resolve. Even as I see a deterioration of those important values I am not yet ready to accept that we have somehow lost our willingness to work for a common good even when it is difficult. I still see incredible resolve and compassion in the work of our medical community that is being battered by Covid 19. In spite of the dangers and the exhausting schedules they return day after day to save lives even as they hear whispers that they are somehow hiding information or cures from us.
I see our nation’s teachers preparing for a new school year that will most certainly be wrought with problems. In spite of concerns for the health and safety of themselves and their students they are gearing up with masks and face shields and disinfectant in the hopes of keeping everyone safe. They are marching into the unknown with the resolve to educate our children and allow parents to return to work even as they know the dangers that may lurk ahead.
Our first responders continue to answer calls for help never quite knowing what they may encounter. Already their ranks have been thinned by the virus and sadly some of their comrades have died. Still they do their jobs just as they have been trained to do.
The vast majority of citizens want to help beat back the virus. They wear masks, ignoring their discomfort in support of a cause bigger than themselves. they keep their interactions with others to a minimum, avoiding crowds and large gatherings. They are very conscious and respectful of other people’s needs. They listen to their doctors and follow guidelines in the hopes of keeping Covid 19 at bay.
So why is there still so much pushback in the country and a rapidly growing feeling that Covid 19 is out of control? I suspect that the problem lies in a lack of proper leadership. More than anything we need to see politics set aside and a united effort from national, state and local offices. A successful program will have to begin at the very top with honesty and compassion, not efforts to undo safety measures or cater to a fringe group that is unhappy. Here a a few suggestions for our president:
- If we should all wear masks then make it a nationwide program and lead the effort by modeling mask wearing behavior whenever you are in a public gathering.
- Give us the data without boasts about how much better we are than other countries. This is not a contest.
- Help us to believe that you actually care. Do not dismiss the suffering by noting that most old people and those with underlying health issues are the ones who are dying while it’s just like sniffles for everyone else.
- Have some earnest compassion without ever drawing comparisons or using the “I” word.
- Support governors and mayors regardless of party affiliation. Help them rather than pointing out their faults.
- Ask the First Lady to speak to us as well. She is a charming woman who seems to have a genuinely kind heart. Allow her to show it in ways other than redoing the White House garden.
- Ask the members of your base who are ignoring the guidelines to join in the united efforts. They will listen to you and do whatever you ask of them.
- Help us to believe that doing the right thing is more important to than winning the election.
- Bring us together so that we can be the kind of Americans who helped the world the eliminate the tyrants of World War II. Let us join the rest of the world in defeating Covid-19, not to win glory for ourselves but to save lives everywhere in a spirit of cooperation.
- In other words, pull us together like FDR did.
- Be a true leader and we will follow.
I want to make America great again. I want a leader who is sincerely working for the good of all of us. Is that too much to ask?