Flight attendants give sound advice before takeoff. To care for others, we must first protect ourselves. Therefore, if the plane depressurizes, adults should put their oxygen masks on first. Then administer masks to children. If the adults pass out, the kids have no chance.
For the same reason, President Donald Trump is right to make “America first,” the phrase that will define his presidency for generations. It has never made more sense than today, as we battle to slow and contain the spread of coronavirus.
“I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health and safety of the American people. I will always put the well-being of America first,” Trump said during an address to the nation Wednesday night.
The United States is the most compassionate country in the world. While mired in debt, we send billions in aid to foreign countries to improve the condition of humanity. We risk and sacrifice American lives using our military to resolve foreign humanitarian crises. We often decline easy war victories to spare civilian lives in enemy territory.
Given our goodwill toward the world’s other nations, no one wanted travel restrictions on China. President Trump imposed them Jan. 31 before most other world leaders fully understood the ramifications of coronavirus. Americans have friends and relatives in China and enjoy the freedom to travel back and forth.
Wednesday night, Trump imposed a travel policy much closer to home. He announced prohibitions of travel from most of Europe for the next 30 days. It includes restrictions on cargo and trade. It won’t be easy for anyone.
“Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow,” Trump said. “Every community faces different risks, and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts and they are the best.”
Trump promised plans to enact unprecedented emergency action to provide financial relief for Americans who suffer hardship as a result of the virus. He sounded certain the United States economy can handle it.
“Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong,” Trump said. “Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.”
The president urged us to act with “compassion and love,” to heal the sick and care for those in need.
“We are all in this together,” Trump said. “We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.”
We should all, including the president, take that advice to heart. The coronavirus has no political party. It is not conservative, liberal or Democratic socialist. It is not racist, sexist or xenophobic. It is a secular, apolitical foe and we must fight it together.
Since the Civil War, our country has never felt more divided. We are mean to each other on social media. Friends and families are torn asunder by stubborn, personalized political rigidity.
The virus threatens our health, our lives and our economic stability. Challenged by this disease — one changing the way we live by the hour and day — perhaps we can unify against a common enemy that views us the same.
The rest of the world needs us to heal sociologically. It needs us to remain physically strong. Less fortunate regions need a healthy and prosperous United States to continue supporting and advocating worldwide justice, peace and well-being. Let’s do all we can, working together, to stop this disease in its tracks.
Then let’s reboot, with an appreciation for what we have in common. Indeed, we are in this together. Our greatest weapon against any threat will be compassion and love for our families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers and those with whom we disagree. United we stand; divided we fall.