Bear column: What will America become post Covid-19?
We’re all heading down the rabbit hole together on this one.
Everyone is wondering if we’re through the worst of the pandemic, when our lives will return to “normal,” and what “normal” will look like when we get there.
One thing is for certain: If we’re going to get through this crisis, we’re going to have to do it together, so we’d better start liking each other.
America has always rallied together during times like these. Remember how united we felt in the immediate aftermath of 9/11? We were down, but we pulled together, determined not to let it defeat us.
We were like the John Elway led Broncos late in the fourth quarter, one score down and 98 yards to go. “We got ’em right where we want ’em.”
But somehow it feels different this time.
America is more divided that it has ever been. Everyone is pointing fingers at the other side, blaming our nation’s problems on “them.” Not surprisingly it’s also an election year, and it’s shaping up to be a contentious one.
We’ve all seen various political memes on Facebook. They crush the other side in a succinct and satisfying way, and that appeals to Americans’ competitive spirit.
But the problem with these memes is that not only do they eliminate the need for critical thinking; they create division by promoting an “us vs. them” mentality, which, of course, is what they’re designed to do.
Are we really going to fall for that ploy again? Did we learn nothing from Russia’s tampering in our 2016 election? Are we once again going to allow our choices to be influenced by a foreign entity?
Another problem with political memes is that they play on liberal and conservative stereotypes.
Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.”
So, maybe in some ways we are what people think we are, but we also all have unique interests or talents that no one would guess about. I’ve known people who self-identify as conservative who are staunch environmentalists. I’ve also known people who self-identify as liberal who are avid hunters.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all learn to think for ourselves instead of having our opinions shaped by some meme, commercial, or talk show host?
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s hearing someone parrot the talking points of some media personality, who by the way is paid very well to espouse those opinions.
Talking points are shortcuts to actual thinking. You can simply repeat them and sound smart, even if you have no idea what you’re talking about.
People also tend to identify with the platform of whatever political party they identify with. So, for instance, if you’re a Republican, you know you should be pro-life; if you’re a Democrat you know you should be pro-choice.
Ask yourself: If I had never heard about the Republican or Democratic parties, how would I feel about this issue? Maybe you’d feel differently; maybe not. I’d be willing to bet, though, that you wouldn’t see the issue as black and white as you do now.
I’m not a Democrat or Republican, because I think that anyone who bases their opinions solely on the platform of some political party is a lazy thinker, and lazy thinking is helping to create the division in our nation.
I’m probably also the most apolitical person you’ll ever meet. In fact I hate politics, mostly because it’s full of… well… politicians.
We can’t trust our “leaders” in Washington because it’s obvious they are for sale to the highest bidder. You can almost see the strings being manipulated by their large campaign donors when they speak.
These “leaders” are currently accusing each other of politicizing the novel coronavirus crisis, and by doing so they are doing exactly that. The worst part is, they’ve failed at the one job we hired them to do — represent us.
So we’re on our own now. It’s up to us to define what America will become post Covid-19.
I’m a lifelong Broncos fan, and I enjoy sitting at a bar with a beer and watching the game with other Broncos fans. Over the years I’ve had many conversations with other fans who sat down next to me. I don’t know what their politics are. In fact I couldn’t care less. For the duration of that game at least, we’re comrades.
What if we stopped listening to all the noise? What if instead of pointing fingers at each other we identify common interests, and then build on those until they become common goals?
It’s late in the fourth quarter, we’re down one score with 98 yards to go. What are we going to do?
Jeff Bear is a reporter and copy editor for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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