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LONGMONT, CO – MAY 27:Flags and flowers mark the gravesite of World War II Veteran Leo Francis Sprague on Memorial Day at Foothills Gardens of Memory near Longmont on May 27, 2019. (Photo by Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
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By Lesley Lundeen

I have a question. What, in the world, is going on?!  I am not naive to the fact that election years are always particularly divisive and disheartening, especially in the age of social media. I usually get off Facebook for this very reason — it is a complete morale killer to see people become so verbally abusive to others behind the screen of their devices.

But this is different.

This is May.

We are still over five months away from the election.

This is about a global crisis. A global crisis that literally every human on this planet has been affected by. It is not political. It is a virus. This is where we come together and throw politics to the wayside to work toward a common good. Right? This is what happened on 9/11, which is the only other crisis that I’ve lived through to have a basis for comparison.

But that’s not what is happening.

The media machine has gotten out of hand. Fox News is encouraging its viewers to blame the left and harshly judge those who are fearful and thus choose to remain in the safety of their homes. CNN, MSNBC and the lot are encouraging viewers to squarely blame the administration for the global crisis and harshly judge those have deemed it within their realm of comfort to transition out of lockdown.

This does not have to be polarizing. We don’t have to stand by and let them continue to make it that way to satisfy their political agendas, lobbyists and donors.

The politicians are making racial slurs, childishly calling one another names, and spending U.S. tax dollars to get the opposition out of office. Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi are using every tool in their belts to pit Americans against one another.

The science is all over the place. The CDC, WHO and NIH change their story seemingly on a weekly basis.  There are experts giving their opinions that lead to hypotheses and forecasted outcomes that vary drastically. If the models have taught us anything thus far, it’s that this disease has a trajectory that is impossible to predict.

I don’t know anything. My head is spinning every day, desperately searching for an accurate and unbiased media source, public official, scientist or medical professional that is trustworthy.  As we all live through this hellish ordeal simultaneously, can we not just have respect for our neighbors? If folks are fearful and want to remain isolated, can we not have respect and empathy for those decisions? If folks are suffering from the effects of isolation and take calculated risks to responsibly venture back out, can we not have respect and empathy for those decisions?  Can we go back to assuming the best of each other, and trusting each person’s intelligence and ability to make their own choices without judging and chastising them because they may be different from our own?

This is America.  It’s OK to have differing opinions. On politics. On religion. On family choices. On professional choices. And last but not least, on the coronavirus.

It’s Memorial Day weekend. One thing the politicians all agree on is to honor the fallen and use this weekend as a time to reflect on what it means to be an American. Can we all go into this weekend (and the days, weeks and months ahead) with more kindness, less hate and judgement, and more peace with our (and others’) decisions?

Lesley Lundeen lives in Boulder.

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