Jim Crawford: Lack of leadership makes our nation fragile in crisis

Published 5:16 pm Friday, May 29, 2020

We are fragile.

America is not broken, Americans are not defeated, but, as a nation, we are fragile now.

We have been attacked, invaded, not by a foreign government, but by an alien, invisible enemy that floats, unseen, in the air, that spreads more easily than ever imagined, that kills more and damages more than previous viruses. And it has made us fragile.

Some of us are angry — angry at government for our forced isolation; angry because our jobs are gone, and the hoped-for government support never came or was not enough to sustain us through the emergency of the pandemic. Some of us are angry because we simply do not believe the coronavirus is the terrible killer we have been told, but is more like the yearly flu than the deadliest killer of humans.

And we are damaged by the very isolation itself, combined with the ongoing fear of the unknown that still lies ahead of us as a nation. For many, our mental health is, as experts inform us, more at risk than ever before.

We will need healing time, a recovery of a new normal, a way forward that offers safety for our families and each other. And we will need mental health care to guide those of us made more fragile by the pandemic.

There is no easy answer to all that we face, no one simple solution. But there is a path forward if we can be guided by reason and knowledge, not fear and anger.

We must stop the political war over face masks. There are a few truths that should guide us forward now regarding the use of masks.

Yes, our health care experts did tell us, early on, that we did not need masks. It was wrong, a lie, but it was advanced because there were far too few masks available for our frontline healthcare providers and the system could not survive a rush by the public on a very limited supply at that moment in time.

Once the supply of masks was improved, the CDC corrected the false statement and told every American that wearing a mask would help protect others we encountered and would reduce the rate of spread of the virus.

For those among us who see refusing to wear a mask as an individual right, consider seatbelts and smoking. Laws that force us to buckle up do take away the freedom to refuse (unless you are willing to pay a fine now and then). But those laws reduce the death toll on our highways and reduce the costs of health care for repairing broken bodies from unnecessary damage. Likewise, your right to smoke in public denies you total freedom. But does not your freedom end where mine begins?

Other countries have slowed down, almost stopped, the coronavirus, but not America. The reasons are straightforward.

First, the mask. Second, social distancing works and matters in slowing the spread of corona. Third, contract tracing for those found to be infected also works when combined with isolation.

We are far behind in these areas, far from smothering the virus through reason. We are behind because our president has been nearly perfect in mismanaging the virus and our safety.

From starting to react too late, to failing to provide the supplies needed, to dividing us over the mask issue, Donald Trump has given America, with 4 percent of the globes’ population, 28 percent of the fatalities. And the deaths continue to rise.

The president is a failed leader in this crisis. A failed leader ranting on Twitter about his inane trivialities during this national crisis.

He is unfit to serve, and his words make us more fragile.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.