It’s a ‘make it or break it’ time for these United States

“I’m so tired of all of this.”

I’ve heard this phrase – or some variation of it, sometimes with colorful language – many times in the past few weeks, and I’ve even uttered it a few times myself.

This year has brought us many unprecedented challenges, and chief among them is the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 130,000 Americans are dead from the virus, and we still have numerous people in our country – including a lot of Mississippians – who won’t take things seriously and take simple preventative measures like wearing masks. As a result, we are seeing positive case numbers skyrocket, and our hospital systems are becoming overwhelmed.

Add to that challenge the fact that we’re living in an extremely divisive political environment. Many controversial issues that have been simmering for years have now reached the boiling point. The murder of George Floyd by rogue police officers in Minneapolis prompted a serious national conversation about race relations, and those issues that have long been on the back burner are now getting much-needed attention.

Another issue facing us is our unstable economy and the fact that millions of Americans are out of work or in low-income jobs that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. We’re seeing the stark reality of the many inequalities in our society, and we’re being confronted by them. Some of us are choosing to bury our heads in the sand and ignore these troubles, and others have decided to chip in and attempt real change for the better.

I believe we’re living in a “make it or break it” time in our country, and it’s easy to be exhausted by all of the challenges facing us. It’s okay to admit these challenges are daunting, but it’s not okay to ignore them and just hope for the best. I think that’s the strategy many Americans are employing with the coronavirus, and they aren’t taking it seriously until they see a positive test result or a family member or friend who is suffering with its effects.

It’s an ignorant strategy, and it won’t work in the long term. We must recognize the virus and the danger it poses, and we must also acknowledge that our country is in the midst of a transformational change. I believe we’re on the cusp of either dissolving into utter chaos or reforming our country to be a more fair place for all people to live and thrive.

Our state has long been reluctant to accept change, and that mindset has left us back in the mid-1800s in terms of societal progress. However, I was surprised – and shocked – to see so many Mississippians rally behind the successful effort to remove the Confederate-based state flag. We must have unity in order to have progress, and I figure that if our state can unite and tackle such a controversial issue, our country can certainly come together and solve the challenges that are surrounding us.

In order to unify, we must again learn the arts of kindness and patience. We have to be able to respectfully disagree with one another, and we must remember to love our neighbors without exception. All of these things are tough to do, and it requires practice, but today is as good of a day as any to start.

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