Richard Friedlander: Are We All In This Together?

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It is often said, glibly, that in our current multiple crises "we’re all in this together." Richard Friedlander is not so sure.

We are not all in this together. Not all of us. That person blithely walking through a crowd without a face mask is not in this together. That person who won’t keep their distance from me is not in this together. That company that makes workers choose between life and family; that entrepreneur who opens on their own is not in this together. Price-gougers; those selling health workers damaged goods are not in this together. That person ignoring senior lines is not in this together. Fake charities are not in this together. The corporation that pockets misdirected federal funds is not in this together. That faith group oblivious to the health of non-believers; that politician trading needed equipment for support; whoever disregards medical evidence is not in this together.

Neither is one making a hostage of our right to vote. Or the white person not driven to act when a black man is kneed to death in the street. Those who assure us with a smile that we’re all in this together while knowing we are not are not in this together.

The first casualty in any war is truth, and this is no exception. What Londoners loved about Churchill during the horrendous months of the Blitz was that he didn’t lie to them. And his faith in their ability to absorb the truth did bring them together and gave them faith in him and courage.

A platitude comforts only those not elbow-deep in the unavoidable truth. Not those on the front lines, who are too busy trying to save others to even think about whether it’s true or not. Or the neighbor who looks out for those who would be endangered without their help. Or the stranger who gives me a friendly wave as we pass by at least 6 feet apart. Or the investor who shares part of their astounding gains with the financially strapped. Or the elected leader who feels the grief of those in pain and trouble caused by the virus or injustice. These are the ones who know that no one is safe unless all are safe. These are the ones who are truly in it all together.


With a Perspective, I’m Richard Friedlander.

Richard Friedlander is a mediator and author in the East Bay.