MOORESTOWN, NJ — Moorestown resident Daniel Begg writes that the country must unite in the face of the coronavirus and social unrest. His letter to the editor can be found below.
To the Editor:
In the midst of the most monumental health, economic, and political calamity of our times, we have entered uncharted territory. This past week, millions of children, teenagers, and college students began reattending schools and universities in the middle of a pandemic. With unclear data on the degree to which the virus is spread asymptomatically from young people to adults, there are more questions than answers about how this will play out.
Meanwhile, our electoral system is facing the biggest crisis it has ever seen. In just two months, our country will undergo what promises to be the most controversial and disputed Presidential election in our history. Americans will have the choice of risking their health to vote in person or cast mail-in ballots in a postal system crippled by cost and service cuts.
The mask, a simple and effective means of reducing the spread of the virus, has become a political symbol. We have somehow managed to turn a health crisis into an ideological divide. It is hard to believe that in a first-world country with some of the greatest scientific capabilities in the world, there is such distrust of health officials. And here we are, with over 193,000 dead and over 13 million unemployed as of this writing, and with no end in sight because so many Americans have failed to take this virus seriously.
In the runup to the election, with the economy facing a long and challenging road to recovery, our politics have become uglier than ever. The very real fear that people are living with: fear of lawlessness and disorder, fear of social unrest, fear of the economy getting worse, has become a political tool. Everything is seen through the prism of “our side” vs. “their side.” How can we surmount this crisis if we can’t even unite as a country?
Our failure to control the spread of this virus stems from our failure to come together as a nation to address a health crisis for exactly what it is, not a hoax or an overblown political scheme but an insidious threat to human life. We are all Americans, whether we are white, black, brown, right, left, Republicans, or Democrats. How have we let this pandemic divide us so deeply?
I see our country standing on the edge of a precipice. I look back and I think of other trying times our nation has been through. During those times, we had leaders that rallied the American people with inspirational words to give us hope to get us through the hardships we faced. I think of the immortal words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proclaimed, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Today, our fear, and our refusal to stand together against this deadly virus that doesn’t care one bit about race or politics, have gotten the better of us.
I want to believe that our best days as a country are ahead and that there is a brighter future for generations to come. We will surmount this virus, but we can only move forward as a people when we, as Americans, unite and find common ground to address the very real challenges this country will face in the coming months and long after the pandemic is contained. Only then can we begin the process of healing this deeply troubled and divided nation.