At a time in our country when we so desperately need empathy, humanity and unity, the president of the United States sows seeds of hatred, inhumanity, and discord. Substituting gaslighting for leadership, Trump stokes the flames of division while continuing to cast doubt and confusion on the pandemic and upcoming election.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, this nation’s top infectious disease expert, testified before Congress on Friday that lack of a unified national coronavirus response worsened this outbreak. Yet, even as several prominent members of Trump’s own ranks succumbed to the tragic consequences of anti-mask paranoia this week, Trump continues to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, instead sowing seeds of discord by reviving his false claims about the use of hydroxyl-chloroquine and praising Jim Jordan and Peter Navarro as they continue conspiratorial assaults on Dr. Fauci.
Everything Trump says about coronavirus is wrong. As Trump continues to push to reopen schools across America, claiming children aren’t affected and are mostly immune from the virus, this week, 260 children and teens attending an overnight camp in Georgia tested positive for COVID-19, even after some measures to prevent the spread of the virus were practiced. Critically, however, masks were not required for the campers, only for staff. A report by the CDC found that COVID-19 “spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting” and that the measures taken by the camp were not enough to prevent an outbreak. So what does this say about reopening the schools?
As three former presidents paid homage to the Patron Saint of Voting Rights, Congressman John Robert Lewis, during his funeral in Atlanta this week, Trump sowed yet more seeds of discord by going on a Twitter rant against mail-in voting, suggesting that November’s presidential election be delayed because of the unproven potential for fraud. White House senior advisor, Stephen Miller, also added to the discord by scolding former President Barack Obama for his “shockingly political” remarks on voter suppression at the funeral service for Lewis, who was an icon of the civil rights movement. Miller accused Obama of spreading lies about efforts by elected officials to stifle voter participation and minority engagement ahead of November’s election – calling Obama’s eulogy totally disconnected from reality and scandalous.
No, what is scandalous and out of touch with reality is that the sitting president of the United States did not attend the funeral of Lewis, refusing to pay his respects. Rather, he took to Twitter to sow the seeds of discord that should he lose in November, he’ll be claiming voter fraud, blaming the media for conspiring against him with the Democrats while retweeting more vile conspiratorial theories.
But Trump’s not alone is sowing the seeds of discord in this country. As the U.S. economy shrank at a record-breaking 32.9% rate in the second quarter this year and the weekly jobless claims continue to rise with economic forecasters warning of another slowdown with coronavirus resurging across the country, Senate Republicans stalled on extending the popular unemployment benefits and left town. Their disdain for the common man, given this reality, is stunning.
So where do we go from here? How do we Make America Whole Again?
We can start by embracing our diversity. As a global power with the potential to become a moral compass for the world, we have a unique opportunity to work on all levels of society.
As the late, great Congressman John Lewis believed, forgiveness is key. Political forgiveness begins with renouncing acts of revenge, coupled with the building of historical memory, transitional and restorative justice and a move to exclude violence from the structures of society. Political forgiveness creates the possibility of a future in which intolerance, violence and repression give way to peaceful, sustainable equality and co-existence.
But more than political forgiveness is required. We must all practice individual forgiveness. We need deep soul searching that recognizes our collective complicity and shared history. This isn’t about beating ourselves up; it’s about realizing we can make better choices that can support the healing of this nation.
We need to root out harmful policies and corrupt leadership. Political forgiveness on a structural level is to work together to right the wrongs passed down between generations until we have true equality. The murder of George Floyd demonstrated the worst of human behavior in an individual and the best of human behavior in countless masses of strangers.
Our country was built on an incredible legacy underpinned with moral and spiritual foundations. As Americans, we know from history we have this inner strength and spiritual wisdom. My hope is that we let these principles guide us now.
JOIN Barb and John as they discuss Sowing Seeds of Discord.
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