Up & Coming Weekly

January 05, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JANUARY 6-12, 2021 UCW 5 OPINION MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. The work ahead by MARGARET DICKSON Rock Without The Hard Edge for Fayetteville. And Local News updates throughout the day. If there is even one person in the United States, or the world for that matter, who is sad to have turned the page on 2020, I have never heard of him and certainly do not know her. Last year was disastrous in so many ways and positive in so few. Let's do some assessments. On the positive side, our frontline health care workers have labored tirelessly to save their fellow Americans for almost a year and continue to do so at the current height of the pandemic at great risk to themselves and their own families. We conducted elec- tions across the nation overseen by honest and dedicated election workers from both sides of the political spectrum, and there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud or even much fraud at all. Many of us have spent more time with our families than before the pandemic struck, and vaccines are to the rescue, though more slowly than promised. On the negative side, political division plagues us as much as COVID-19. Friends, colleagues, even family members have fallen apart over politics. Despite evidence to the contrary, some Americans continue to believe Democrats committed massive voter fraud to defeat Donald Trump, an argument that ignores the reality that while Joe Biden defeated Trump, Democrats lost ground in Congress and in state legislatures. e Me Too and Black Lives Matter move- ments laid bare stark differences in the way our culture treats some groups of people and demands that we reckon with those disparities. Perhaps the biggest divide of all is be- tween the haves and the have nots, a divide made stunningly clear by the pandemic. e United States likes to think of itself as a great melting pot, and in many ways it is. Almost all of us descend from people who came here from somewhere else. We take pride in our egalitarian ways of life. Every- one, at least on paper, is welcome every- where, and everyone, at least on paper, can rise to his or her full human potential. e plague has made clear how inaccurate that belief is. Economic and educational inequities stare us in the eye. Since COVID struck early last year, we are more separated than ever before. Americans whose jobs al- lowed have worked, shopped, entertained ourselves and communicated with family and friends from the relative safety of home. Some have even isolated in second homes away from as many of their fellow citizens as possible. We no longer see each other at sporting events or in theaters, on mass transit, in governmental offices, in public schools and libraries, even in restaurants now required to reduce the numbers of customers served. ose fortunate enough to retreat interact with fellow Americans continuing to do their jobs out of financial necessity only when they deliver groceries, pizza or laundry. Social scientists express increasing con- cern about economic sectors, largely tech, exploding at a time more and more Ameri- cans line up at food banks and growing numbers of homeless roam our nation's streets. ey wonder whether the COVID experience will prompt Americans to rec- ognize inequities within our nation and address what Stanford historian David Ken- nedy refers to as "a long historical process of social fragmentation that is now more obvious than ever." Not all scholars are optimistic. Says Mar- garet O'Mara, a University of Washington historian, "It's been a very long time since people across the income spectrum felt that acting in the collective interest was going to be more beneficial than acting in individual interests." Like Cornell economic historian Louis Hyman, I choose to be hopeful and to believe Americans will eventually do the right thing, however slowly. I believe we will confront the inequities in our nation if for no other reason that our democracy will fail if we do not. Hyman points out that America reformed our economy after Great Depres- sion images of desperate poverty. "Visibility is a good thing," he says, "that people are forced to confront it." We are there again in 2021. Healthcare workers have worked tirelessly to save their fellow Americans for almost a year and continue to do so at the current height of the pandemic.

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