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Scoot: Divide on the 4th of July

July 02, 2020 - 1:02 pm

America’s celebration of the 4th of July this year will occur against the backdrop of a growing pandemic and renewed racial tension - both of which invite different opinions about the country we are celebrating.

The coronavirus pandemic and heightened racial sensitivity sparked by the death of George Floyd fed the great political divide in America.  The divide in America has deepened, and contrasting opinions about the pandemic and race relations have forced opposing sides to stake out and aggressively defend their political territory.

The issue of race relations is attracting new soldiers in the fight for equality, and it does feel like the new awareness will lead to significant changes. Those changes will be mostly led by younger generations.

The controversy over whether to wear - or not to wear - a mask has become a microcosm of the great American divide. Both sides of the debate consider their decision to be rooted in American patriotism.

The definitions for “patriot” and “patriotic” do little to solve the debate. Patriot is “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”  Patriotic is defined as “having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.”

Those Americans who wear masks or facial coverings could argue that it is patriotic to wear a mask, an unselfish act of protecting fellow Americans. And those who continue to refuse to wear a mask or facial coverings can argue that they have the freedom and the right, as Americans, to not wear a mask.

Wearing a mask has become more acceptable in a culture that would never have envisioned wearing masks in public, and even President Trump has revised his public attitude toward masks by saying on the Fox Business Network that he is “all for masks.”

Trump’s positive comment about wearing masks comes in the shadow of Republican leaders, like Senator Mitch McConnell, breaking their silence and promoting the wearing of masks.

The coronavirus numbers have been soaring, and there is evidence that gatherings over the Memorial Day Weekend led to the spread. In Louisiana, all gains made during the first half of June were erased in the second half of June. Memorial Day weekend was just about 14 days prior to numbers going up again in the state. It is this pattern that seems to provide enough evidence that wearing masks and physical distancing do work. Yet - what is obvious to some is dismissed by others.

As we go into this 4th of July weekend - let’s try to remember that we are celebrating the beginning of America. We should remember the struggles that led to the founding of America and have faith that we will survive our current struggles.  Wearing a mask seems like a small sacrifice every American should be willing to make considering the great sacrifices many made in the forming if this country.

And if you still refuse to wear a mask - don’t be an arrogant American that believes that you are brave because of your refusal to wear a mask. Being brave is often defined by the changing of behavior and not by adhering to the status quo.

For all that it is - and for all that it is not - America is a great country that will be greater when start to look at each other as equals rather than the members of political tribes.

Happy Birthday, America!!!

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