The other day, I happened to hear a clip from a speech by Ronald Reagan, whose articulate style and poise have not been matched by a president since he was in office. Even when he became angry, there was a dignity about him that I miss.
The speech included a surprising reference to aliens. His words seemed out of place in their official capacity, but I kept listening, and inside the reference was a very principled message. Reagan was originally an actor, as such, he knew how to address a crowd eloquently.
He stated, “What if all of us in the world were threatened by an outer power, from outer space, from another planet?”
I think this would make anyone pause if they heard a president say this, but he goes on to state, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”
Now, of course, he goes on to compare that alien force to war, or more precisely an infringement on peace. Part of his point was that an extreme threat might unite the world.
Well, as much as I appreciate his fluent and creative nature, I would have to say, he was wrong. We have been breached by a type of calamity, and while it is not aliens, it is alien to us. It is a situation that most of us have not encountered before. And instead of uniting us, especially America, it seems to have separated us farther on a different level.
In the beginning of our COVID-19 virus threat, I liked hearing the quote “We’re in this together.” When I think back, I wonder if some people were desperately trying to keep the topic from taking on the usual political fervor. Even now, I cannot listen to officials or speakers or media that race to blame other entities who are simply on the other side of their political spectrum.
Instead, I appreciate those that are trying to help, those that are ignoring the partisanship and political posturing. But the separation even transcends politics. Incredibly, I have recently heard, more than once, how some people think we should not be thankful for those essential workers out there who still go to work. Why wouldn’t we be appreciative? Why not? I am appreciative anyway, regardless of a pandemic. When I go to the pharmacy, I always pull away with a sense of gratitude simply because of the kind demeanor of the employees.
Instead of driving us together as Reagan surmised in his alien comparison, this real calamity has driven us farther apart. Sometimes, I honestly do not know whether I should wear a mask or not. I heard of a Walmart worker that was accosted by a gentleman that called her “sheep” because she was wearing a mask. Why?
Many people I know and care about think the virus is more a hoax and repeatedly make fun of the seriousness of it. Yet, I repeatedly see health officials give warnings and explications of their views. And the numbers: I have seen an incredible amount of data support every side logically to the point I don’t know who is correct.
Subsequently, should I trust our Governor? He is following all the Federal guidelines, but I hear all the time how he is robbing us of our civil rights. Does that mean the President is doing the same if Beshear is following his guidelines? Or does it depend on your political party? Should it?
The situation is truly confusing unless you blindly follow a partisan side. But that should not decide the truth; regardless, there is so much angst out there, I am finding it hard to trust any information. My robot brain is overloaded.
Again, I appreciate those out there abiding by the fact that we are in this together, because the separation is growing in this country, and for some it seems to even justify violence.
Consequently, there is a basic principle that surpasses all this confusion, and the older I get, the more I succumb to its wisdom. Despite what I believe in contrast to what others believe, I find myself thinking these words: “Love thy neighbor.” But that is hard to promote when there is a growing anger in this country, and right and wrong are ultimately muddled and twisted by silly slogans and misinformation. I think I might settle for “don’t hurt thy neighbor.”
Maybe we need some aliens.
Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at Theteachersdesk.email@example.com.