Nine months ago I wrote about the chances of 328+ million Americans accepting personal responsibility for fighting the pandemic. At the time, a well-orchestrated response was not in place and there was a great deal of fear about how best to fight COVID-19. Adding to the anxiety was the civic unrest unleashed weeks earlier by the death of George Floyd and the impending presidential election. That that sense of disarray now seems so long ago is a kind of reassurance that we have come a long way.
Then again, the only thing that has really changed is that we’ve gotten vaccines approved and shipped around the country in an extraordinary show to federal power and capacity (thank you to both the Trump and Biden administrations). The next steps – on both the COVID front and in terms of the health of our democracy – will require a return to the topic of personal responsibility. We need to get enough people vaccinated to create immunity; we need to re-establish confidence in the stability of our democracy, from elections to public safety.
One important insight for me since that posting back in August of 2020 is the guidance from our President. Joe Biden’s inaugural address included this statement: “Through civil war, the Great Depression, world war, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifices and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us — ENOUGH OF US — have come together to carry all of us forward, and we can do that now.” I remember gulping for breath when he said those words, so encouragingly, from the Capitol steps. Can enough of us come together? I genuinely hope so.
So it is time to respond to a Call to Action, people. Mask up when it is still appropriate! Get vaccinated! Support small businesses that are finding a way to keep going! Accept that the impacts of this pandemic have not fallen equally on each of us and be supportive of the need to lift others up!
I must confess that I am not feeling confident. I sincerely hope that people of the United States of America prove me wrong. Let us come together in our collective self-interest and get the U.S.A. past this horrible challenge of a pandemic. We CAN do this….will we?