We are now, always have been, and will probably always be a divided species. It’s unfortunate but true. We put people, ideas, and feelings into boxes (you’ll see me do it in this very blog). We define. We make our choices based on those definitions.
From political to spiritual. Each of us with different belief systems and values, being shaped by our own, unique upbringing. Each of us being exposed to certain schools of thought. Each of us interpreting data through our constantly evolving cultural lenses.
Now we have COVID. This could be the biggest divider of all. It’s become clear over the past few months of observation that there are advocates in two camps:
- Those who do wear masks
- Those who do not wear masks.
Through the lens of the mask-wearer: They want to do their part in slowing the spread, effectively ending the mass panic. The minor inconveniences of maintaining the guidelines of medical professionals are well worth the protection of those at risk and themselves. They’re the folks that want to do right by others because they care. Unless of course, you fall into the other camp. Then all bets are off.
Through the lens of the non-mask-wearer: They don’t see the point. While they can grasp the idea of COVID doing horrible and unprecedented things, they stick to the numbers. And numbers show a low overall death rate. With 93% of deaths happening to those 50+ (per the CDC). Most with prior health conditions that leave them compromised to other ailments.
They too, listen to the recommendations of medical professionals. Who, at one point, did state masks were only necessary for a select few—medical personnel, those infected, those caring for the infected. So in their eyes, why the sudden change? Were they wrong before? If they were, how can they be so certain they’re correct now? They place doubt in others and faith in logic.
The bottom line? Both groups—and all humans in general—are too stubborn to see life through the lens of others. Even when there is a common enemy like a never-before-seen viral outbreak. Not to mention, everyone knows a doctor or a nurse that will tell you either: “The masks do nothing but cause panic.” Or “The masks are the only way to save lives and stop the spread.”
Neither side will be able to convince the other that their science is better. Leaving us—you guessed it—divided. The only possible solution to the never-ending game of tug-of-war is to stop playing. We must stop forcing others to look through our lens.
And here’s how:
- As individuals, we must make a conscious choice to fully educate ourselves. We must be able to pocket our feelings and opinions. It is a lost art to walk in another person’s shoes. Uncover it. Bottom line: Do your research, and not just on the “side” you believe in. The only way to truly have a fact and value-based opinion is to know ALL sides of the argument and if challenged, be ready to defend yourself with knowledge.
- As a society, we must learn together, through each other. Finding the middle ground is imperative, and in many cases almost impossible. Once united, we will not only be able to better battle COVID but also any other task life throws at us. If you don’t see the middle ground as you are rooted in your COVID beliefs, at least take the time to understand the thoughts and concerns of the other side. As a society, we may not agree, but we can be more empathetic to others who do not agree with us.
- As a nation, we must not stay quiet. America was built on its people challenging its leaders. The ability and freedom to question ideas, rules, etc. is a great luxury most don’t enjoy. United we can challenge our media and government leaders to present true, consistent facts and figures, so that as a nation, we can conquer this virus and the division it’s brought.
I want to live in a world where people still honor and have respect for each other. No matter their beliefs. Learning the “WHY” others think and feel, is the best—and the only way to do that is to put down our lens. To look through the lens of others.
After all, a house divided…