United, we stand. Divided, we fall.John Dickinson, Founding Father, “Liberty Song”
I first heard this motto in my middle school Pre-AP History class, and my ear caught the two words: united and divided. It all sounded like simple addition and subtraction to me, but there was not a “real time” application in my personal life and my naïveté about the world around me made blind. At nearly four decades old, I see it now. It reads like a newspaper headline, and the gravity of the situation continues to weigh like the sphere Atlas shouldered. In many ways, we, as a nation, are a “house divided,” as Lincoln quipped, and as such, we are standing on wobbling legs.
In mathematics, DIVISION means that one larger entity is separated into smaller parts, sometimes equally, sometimes, not.
While I totally see the logic behind the “divide & conquer” mentality of compartmentalizing the obstacle and tackling it that way, I don’t believe that we will overcome the five-headed hydra of 2020 by doing so, because each time we try to conquer it with isolated pockets of humanity whose agendas are all separate, another “head” emerges from the base. Those “heads” are also distractions from our purpose, creating further splits. As my six year old pointed out to me while watching this in cartoon form, Hercules has to literally get in the belly (ok, throat) of the beast and defeat it from the inside out. Since no demigod has stepped out of Olympus to go on this quest, it seems that the job is ours. Ours—yours and mine.
I’ve always been a problem-solver, whether by choice or circumstance, and the times I’ve created a problem without realizing, I’m very quick to shift to the “Fixer.” Too bad I don’t have Felix’s golden hammer this time.
Okay, so unity. I love a good film or novel reference, so, when I see that word, it immediately brings to mind the battle of Helm’s Deep from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. King Theoden of Rohan, a feudal monarch who was a little rusty on being a good role model for his people, chose to stand firm at a small fortress, with far fewer fighting on his side than the legions of monsters from Isengard. It seemed bleak and hopeless; the battlements were blasted, arrows fired, swords clashed, lives were lost, and little ground was gained. Night was a void, rain pelted down those on the ramparts, and death seemed imminent.
Then, dawn broke, and in the distance on the crest of a hillside, the Rohirrim cavalry rides towards the fray, and a legion of Ents (tree people) join in to defeat Saruman’s Orcs. It wasn’t just about one life—it was about all lives. Hope is restored, and the battle won because varying talents and skills are united as one.
Although it was but one battle, it was an impetus, and every subsequent skirmish builds towards defeat of evil. Even the Fellowship itself is severed, but the two best hobbit friends unite together to accomplish their directive.
Together. Parts of one larger whole.
Here is what I feel is the correct battle strategy: unity.
Unity of purpose.
What is that purpose, you ask?
The safety and well-being of all who walk this Earth.
To come out safely, and together, on the other side of 2020 I hope we can see (and do) all of the following:
**The end of a pandemic and intelligent methods to combat its symptoms and after-effects. To gather information about risks, and be honest about who they impact. It’s not one “type” of person, but all of us, who are at risk. How we choose to adhere to safety protocol will be what tips the scale for, or against, us. Unite in the prioritization of safety by looking at the facts.
**A cessation of this isolationism we have endured and a return to a sense of community. For now, it begins within our own four walls, which have closed in tightly for many, but have also sheltered innumerable. Harold B. Lee says that the “most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.” I know that we are itching to come out of our cocoons, but not all have grown their wings yet. For now, unite in the temporary discomfort of waiting.
**A new “normal” in our society that includes greater, lasting compassion for humanity, no matter what color their skin is on the spectrum, their life choices, religious or political beliefs. Normalize conversation about our own myopia and encourage an open-eyed/eared policy. Unite in celebration of diversity and develop empathy.
**Gratitude for the frontline workers who have sacrificed so much already, and for those who are going to continue to step in front of the Goliath of 2020—literally anyone who gets out of bed every day to work hard to undo the tangled web we have woven of our country. I’m not talking about one special day on the calendar—I’m talking about making it a constant conversation. Unite together in thankfulness, focusing on blessings over burdens.
When the frenzy of this battle is at its zenith, what we choose to do, with, and for, one another is what will tip the scale in our favor. It is not simply about our own interests, comfort, or perspective.
So, how can you contribute? What can you do?
Remember our purpose and stop at nothing until the battles for the good of ALL are won.
-Kindred Spirit- 7.22.20