People have been espousing this sentiment for millennia, ever since Aesop uttered it in his fables in ancient Greece.
Americans have been espousing it for over 200 years. In 1792, Patrick Henry, in his last public speech, said, “Let us trust God, and our better judgment to set us right hereafter. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln referenced it in his House Divided Speech, opening with, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”
Apparently, we need to reiterate this sentiment, because we currently live in a house more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Thanks to 24 hour news channels, we are bombarded with biased stories all day, every day. For many of us, the result has been the utter disbelief of anything the other side says is true. Generally, this is dysfunctional, but not deadly.
It is deadly now, as we live in the era of Covd-19, a novel disease without a cure as of yet, a disease that scientists have proven is primarily transmitted via particles in the air, a disease that can infect a carrier without manifesting symptoms, a disease that takes several days for symptoms to appear, a disease that is running rampant across the globe, with its current epicenter in the United States.
Scientists around the world have determined that wearing a mask is crucial to slowing the spread of the disease. Logic tells us that slower spread is better than faster spread until a cure is found or a vaccine is developed. The logic is irrefutable. It is not debatable. More spread means more illness, more hospital stays, more economic impact, and, eventually, more death.
So why is there any debate? Why do we not have a national mandate to wear masks? What irreparable harm comes from mandating their use? No one is espousing that they be worn forever. In my opinion, if wearing a mask prevents the spread of one case of Covid-19, it is worth the sacrifice of each of us putting a mask on each of our faces. But we will not be preventing the spread of just one case. If we wear masks we will be preventing the spread of thousands or, more likely, millions, of cases.
Maybe I am just too much of a bleeding heart to understand what the true cost is of wearing a mask. Maybe I do not sufficiently cherish my right to be free. Maybe I put too much faith in the scientists. I mean, they were wrong about wearing masks several month ago. How do I know they are not wrong now? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
Or maybe not. None of the maybes matter. The absolute fact is that we are facing a common enemy. An enemy that can strike at each of us at any time. We need to fight it with a cohesive, unified strategy. We need to put our bias, our divisions, our beliefs aside and act in a manner that is best for all of us, not in a manner that is best for each of us. To not do so, results in a divided house, which, quite possibly, will fall in on itself.