Posted by: justrememberthebasics | June 19, 2020

The USA & COVID – 19: Our Strength is Our Weakness

The United States, 50 of them.  In some ways our states are united, and in others, obviously not so much.  That fact, our diversity, our lack of commonality as measured by population density, political lean, even geography, and distribution of people by industries, has turned a strength into a weakness when it comes to fighting the COVID – 19 virus.  The United States, positively known as the epitome of the world’s melting pot for a few centuries, is feeling the pain of becoming negatively known as the epitome of a melting pot, having been exposed by our seemingly hodge-podge approach to a common enemy: the virus.  Yes, our leadership has been way less than stellar, but that does not tell the whole story.  It is my opinion that our very nature as a people, as a nation, has contributed greatly to our failings in this health fight, and for that matter in many other fights as well.

If we’re completely honest, let’s face it, it’s not just by state that we have polarizing opinions on how to live wisely and balanced in light of our new world, but also by county, by town, by neighborhood, by political party, by household, even by marriage.  It’s profound.  Many are giving bear hugs, mask-less, like they never heard of the words COVID – 19 virus, while many others have resigned themselves to not touching loved ones for months and being willing to give up their much needed jobs before they will exit the house, even with a mask, gloves and a healthy social distance from all.  Of course, many, likely most, fall somewhere in between those extremes.

From where did this come?  Well, I see the answer as being quite clear and as per usual it is more than one thing.  From where did this come?  Answer:  To start out with we are very independent folks who do not fall in line easily.  The backbone of our country is people who thrive on independence.  Our citizenship-personality is being accustomed to beholding the world in which we operate and then deciding accordingly, independently what our next steps will be.  Yes, we are a country with a primary foundation that is our collective “declaration of independence”.  Demonstrably, in many ways, which at times are obvious and other times hidden, on issues that range from very secondary to immensely critical, our independence as a strength has become a glaring weakness.   It’s happening more and more often, too.  Given this trend, predictably our battle against the virus has become simultaneous a health battle and a cultural battle of how to fight it.

From where did this come?  And if staunch independence is not enough, let’s sprinkle in a media, ranging from pure journalists to blatant editorialists, that bombard our airwaves 24 / 7.  Speculation and truth have become interchangeable.  Innuendos and maybes are thrown about as though equal to substantiated, proven fact, which undoubtedly works in reverse, where substantiated, proven fact is discounted as not being so and being doubted if the facts do not support the world view of the person or people receiving the message.

The 50 United States?  I love them.  The right to have our polarizing opinions?  I love it.  Our  deep-rooted commitment to independence?  I love it, too.  Our media?  The first amendment right is as fundamental as any.  These are among our greatest strengths – diversity, independence, freedom of speech – but have they gone too far, so extreme that they have become a weakness in fighting the virus, as well as many other foes.

It’s time we temper our opinions and listen to the other side.  It’s time we cherish our independence but consider it with great regard for how it impacts others.  It’s time we boldly proclaim, and more specifically identify media as journalists versus editorialists.  The time is long overdue for our culture to demand that we ferret out the truth before it is reported as such, or demand that unsubstantiated information be more clearly labeled as such.  It’s time we act like ladies & gentlemen and put others before ourselves.  It’s time we put unity before divisiveness.  It’s time we understand that in reality our world is a blend of gray that’s best navigated with an approach that listens, contemplates and then behaves  – peacefully, patiently, respectfully – on a balanced mix of ingredients from the left and the right, liberal and conservative, democrat and republican, and so on.

And if we don’t?  Well, a long-ago statement by Abraham Lincoln gives us the answer:  “ A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  The USA is not immune to this same potential destiny.

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