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For Us to Have Faith in Our Government, They Must Also Have Faith in We the People

Amaad Rivera, of Springfield, Mass., left, holds an American flag during a rally in front of the headquarters of gun manufacturer Smith

Amaad Rivera, of Springfield, Mass., left, holds an American flag during a rally in front of the headquarters of gun manufacturer Smith

We’re at war with an enemy that can’t be seen.

When times like this arise, we naturally look to our leaders for guidance and reassurance. This is what we elect them to do — lead.

Our government officials have much more information than we do. That is certainly par for the course, but it is also calculated. It isn’t even something that only happens in a pandemic. There is all kinds of “need-to-know” information coursing through the veins of government on any given day. Some of it is classified because to release it could endanger national security. Some of it is classified because it has bad implications for those involved. Some of it is classified because the panic it might cause could become worse than the problem itself.

I believe that the latter is most true for us in this current situation. Surely the White House and other government leaders know much more than they’re letting on. The trajectory of this “quarantine” seems to indicate they’ve been purposefully dripping out information.

It’s been maddening. The vagueness of our future plans leaves too much open to interpretation. Between media outlets, talking heads, medical and science professionals and amateur sleuths on Twitter there is a plethora of conflicting facts and theories running around. The uncertainty alone is enough to negate any comforting ideas that are coming out of the chaos. The not knowing is the worst part. How long will our lives be at a standstill? Another month? The summer? A year? There is nothing to hold onto right now and that is having its own negative effect on the American psyche.

With that being said, we do elect our leaders for exactly times like this. For all of our political divisions, when it comes down to scary situations, at some point, we the people must place a little faith in our leaders. They have the information and the power to act in our best interests. Whether they always do or not is another thing, but again…sometimes we just have to exercise a little faith. We have to make a decision that those in leadership are doing the best they can to mitigate the situation.

But there are other things to consider. With each passing day, the economic situation in this country gets scarier. It is becoming painfully clear that if we don’t release this economy soon the damage could be more than we can bear. It’s not just about business — although that is obviously very important. We are being forced to cancel big life events that don’t just add to our economy but boost our mental health and sense of community. Those aspects of survival aren’t easily measured but they are a vital part of a thriving society. My son is a high school senior this year. There will be no prom, no graduation walk, no senior activities…at this point, we’re not even sure if colleges will be open in the fall. Every transitional experience we’ve taken for granted is now denied to him and other seniors. It has to be done, but it still stings. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t taken some wind out of our sails and I know we’re not alone.

Funerals and weddings, graduations and parties, cookouts and reunions – these are all events that make up the fabric of our communities. They bond us and bring us hope. They remind us of our responsibilities to each other. They remind us of the value of our lives together. They remind us of what is important in life. Without these things — these reminders — what exactly are we living for? Living is for the living…but are we living if we’re stuck in park indefinitely? The success of the American experiment has largely rested on our enthusiasm for freedom. Choking that enthusiasm is every bit as dangerous as choking the job market.

This virus is never going away. It is a part of our world now. We may find vaccines or better treatments down the road, but for now it is unreasonable to think we can defeat it by simply staying away from each other for 3 months or 6 months or 12 months or whatever the projections may be. As the Trump administration has been telling us for weeks now, we are isolating to slow the spread. That does seem logical, but it certainly isn’t a solution. The best we can do is slow the spread enough to give the health care system a chance to catch up with manpower and supplies.

After that, we’re just going to have to get on with it. Our government is going to have to decide to place some faith in us. They are going to have to trust that we the people can bear the trials ahead, that we can rally, fight, exercise good judgment and help each other spring back to life; that we can provide for the sick and destitute around us while forging ahead.  They have to put faith in the American spirit. Obviously, that time isn’t tomorrow or maybe not even next month, but sooner rather than later it’s going to have to happen. This is an amazing country filled with incredible people. Of course, we need to listen to our health professionals and proceed with informed caution. I don’t mean to suggest otherwise.

I am simply saying that this “trust” thing is a two way street. We elect our leaders and if they want us to have a little faith in them, they will eventually need to have a little faith in us. We know how to survive. We know how to thrive. We know how to win. We’re Americans. It’s what we do.