Many people will be glad to leave 2020 behind including the heartbreaking and staggering loss of life from Covid-19 and the negative impact on the economy that one study estimates will cost the U.S. between $3-$5 trillion. Many of us look forward to a hopeful new year with widely distributed vaccines but it is a mistake to believe that this is going to save us. Over 300,000 Americans have died of the Covid-19 virus but it is severe polarization that is killing us.
America is suffering from an epidemic of division that threatens our democracy, our communities and our health. Instead of working together against common threats we are locked into harmful Us versus Them divides. A vaccine is good news but individual action to create a WE mindset is the real remedy we need.
Every major health authority in the world endorses face masks as an effective method to limit the transmission of the virus, yet wearing one in the U.S. has turned into a harmful culture war with devastating results. Wearing a mask is characterized by opponents, including the President, as hyper-protective, anti-economy and even unpatriotic.
Instead of wholeheartedly getting behind the science that has been proven to protect the health of our citizens, we have selfish leaders like Mitch McConnel doing the bare minimum to promote safety. He made a point of staying away from the White House and super-spreader events but did virtually nothing to call out Trump’s harmful rhetoric that has perpetuated dangerous divides. Others like Dr. Scott Atlas openly questioned health research which fostered uncertainty at a national level.
As a result, millions of Americans still do not wear masks consistently and as a result they put themselves and others at risk. Thousands of people each day are being infected by those who prioritize their perverse idea of personal freedom so high that they would rather tolerate the death of over 900 people a day than place a cloth covering in front of their face when they go outside.
The fight against the pandemic should be viewed as a simple tug-of-war: Humans versus coronavirus. But due to divisive leadership and amplification of falsehoods has unnecessarily turned into an Us versus Them dynamic which undermines our collective power to fight the virus. Sadly, the virus is still winning.
I have spent my career navigating culture wars inside global organizations. Striving for alignment over Us versus Them conflict is my lifework – and the need for cultural unity in the United States has never been more pronounced. The virus does not prefer one political party over another. It does not know there a new administration moving into the White House in a few weeks. The Coronavirus, and all viruses, has one simple job, which is to find as many human hosts as possible to spread the disease. Our singular common mission as humans is to defeat that spread.
Anyone can disrupt the Us versus Them thinking and behavior. It is a simple choice. Just ask yourself which team you are pulling for?
To beat this virus, we have to get a vast majority of Americans to pull on our side of the rope. It doesn’t matter what your politics are or where you live, our path forward is clear.
Wash hands frequently, socially distance from others and wear face masks, especially when in close proximity to other humans. Stay home as much as possible over the new year holiday. Find safe ways to connect through Zoom or outdoor masked small gatherings.
To be sure, it is promising that the Biden-Harris administration will soon be in charge and that vaccines are being distributed, but it is a mistake to believe that our country will magically become unified after the inauguration in January. We cannot wait nor should we rely only on leaders to change our trajectory away from division and toward connection. It is up to individuals to take WE-building action in their own lives.
I am calling on all leaders – parents, teachers, politicians, co-workers, professional athletes, artists, celebrities, older siblings, anyone with influence of any kind – to persuade as many people as you can to join our team. Get on our side of the rope, mask up, and start pulling like our lives and our economy depend on it – because they do.
Written by Laura Kriska. If you enjoy this article, don’t forget to check out our compilation of the World’s Richest Race Car Drivers, Richest Musicians, Richest Models, and Richest Rappers Richest Hockey Players Richest Film Directors. Richest Comedians, Richest Basketball Players.