My mother sent my brothers and me an angry email today. In the email, she lamented the loss of the “American Spirit.” Mom grew up during WW II and recalls how the country pulled together at that time. She has fresh and real memories of people working together — dealing with food rationing, planting gardens, and supporting the war effort.

Regardless of what you or I think about war, the point is that she remembers our country coming together for a common goal. She pointed out that she does not see that now. We are a very divided country in our response to what she sees as a kind of WW III — COVID-19. She said that people don’t have the will to wear a mask, or to make sacrifices like social distancing or giving up certain events, etc. That’s a blanket statement, and I know that there are people who are willing to take precautions, as well as those who are not.

I told her I think selfishness and lack of critical thinking are also part of the picture.

In my job as massage therapist, I see up close the ethical dilemma that is getting played out in this country. Fortunately I don’t have to see it much. But the few times I experienced it almost dragged down my optimism for humanity. In the massage scenario, customers are required by state mandate to mask. We can refuse them service if they won’t wear a mask during massage. That being said, it still blows me away that some are unwilling to follow this rule just because they don’t think the mask is effective or important, etc. Could they, just for that hour, suspend their belief, and let the possibility enter their minds that they might be putting their service provider in danger IF they did refuse to wear a mask? This scenario plays out in any place where all kinds of people gather — retail or grocery stores, for example. It plays out in workplaces like my brother’s, where employees want to wear the mask, but the boss doesn’t believe in it. As someone famous recently said — how do you teach people to care about other people?

There’s nothing here that hasn’t been said before. What I keep wondering is if our American stubbornness and rigidity will be the death of us. Why can’t we meet in the middle, suspend our “beliefs” for a moment, and assume that certain measures might help curb this virus? Why can’t we operate for the greater good of the whole? The facts and the science support it.

When a yoga teacher teaches a mixed yoga class, she teaches to the person in the room who is least advanced. Then, everyone can feel included and none are excluded. If the teacher is creative, she’ll offer options for those more advanced. We need an inclusive coming together in this country if we are hoping to bring this virus under control.