President Biden’s inauguration called for healing of a nation. He laid down his priorities, including fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, you have to be concerned about how deeply divided we have become as a nation. This threat to the “one nation under God”, is more dangerous than the dangers posed by the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic caused by Covid-19.
Make no mistake, the pandemic that has victimized nearly 25 million Americans and taken the lives of over 400,000 Americans and over 2 million people globally is a major threat to our communities. It has completely changed the way we live,, interact and practice medicine. As a physician, I fully recognize that it has completely changed how we practice Medicine. Every aspect of the health care delivery is impacted- from scheduling routine surgeries, procedures to how we see patients and prioritize medical care.
However, I remain optimistic that we will overcome the virus- sooner rather than later, especially with the vaccines now available, their slow deliveries notwithstanding. As we continue to vaccinate, I feel we have a very good chance of overcoming the virus to a large extent by the fall this year.
However I do not share the same optimism regarding a unified nation. I hope I am proven wrong.
The assault on the capitol may have been the tipping point, but if we didn’t feel we are a polarized nation before, we do it now. This past presidential election was like no other. It showed how differently we look at issues facing us. But there remain a large number of people who see the assault very differently. Many still don’t see this as an assault on our democracy but in fact see as the action they needed to take to protect our democracy!
We are deeply divided and polarized on party line and on ideological basis. It is OK to have different viewpoints- we always had at least two major parties. We demonize the other side. We see them as enemies. The hatred on mainstream media is easily detectable, overshadowed only by the vitriol for each other on social media. The seeds of the divide based on race and party affiliation were sown years ago but quite frankly the rhetoric heated up in the past 4 years like no other times that I can remember.
The vaccines against Corona virus are about 95% effective. Unfortunately we don’t have a vaccine in sight for the virus that has caused deep divisions within our ranks.
The road to healing the nation is going to be long. The ride is going to be very bumpy. But we must start the healing process now.
As the first step, we have to stop seeing each other as enemies.
We need to stay civil even when we disagree. We should not fear for our lives when we disagree or criticize each other.
The “othering” effect is now deep rooted. We have to keep in mind that “the others” are our fellow citizens. They may look differently, may even speak with an accent, may go to a different place of worship (or may not go to any) and may belong to the “other” political party, but we are all Americans.
The interfaith communities have a role to play. They are used to reaching out to people with different faith backgrounds, to try to find commonalities and cherish the differences. They are used to ‘listening’ to the ‘other side’ and building bridges to promote harmony in our communities. We need a similar approach to building bridges between people with divergent ideologies.
The road to healing as one nation under God may be long and tortuous, but the journey must begin now. If we never start the journey, we will never get there.
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