I hear this phrase often during tragedy and crisis – “We’re all in this together.”
It’s a great sentiment. I wish it were true though.
Yes, we voice the ideal of unified survival. E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. We think of ourselves as united to one another.
Except when we don’t. Except when it goes beyond the rhetoric to how it is lived out. I don’t want to downplay the heroic acts that are going on. I think they are great. I just wish the sentiment carried on beyond response to a crisis. Why is it that we are only all in this together when there is a crisis? Why aren’t we all in this together at other times – especially times that aren’t dominated by crisis? Wouldn’t being all in this together in better times actually prepare us better for when there is a crisis?
“We’re all in this together.” Really? So what changed that makes this statement true beyond feeling like we are all facing the same challenge and threat to our lives? The crisis did. But what else? What policies can we point to that prove to us that we are in fact all in this together? Like I said, there are certainly actions by individuals, organizations, and even governments that show that we are all in this together. But those are short term changes designed to stop the crisis. They aren’t meant for long term change. After the crisis is over, what’s to stop from going back to “normal.” Were we all in this together pre-COVID-19?
How are we all in this together with those experiencing homelessness?
How about those who have difficulty receiving or paying for health care?
How are we all in this together with those who are in low wage jobs?
How about those who struggle with mental health challenges?
How are we all in this together when it comes to stewardship of the earth?
How are we all in this together when it comes to educating children and even adults?
How are we all in this together when I hear political rhetoric and politicians use language that divides, dehumanizes, and degrades people?
How are we all in this together when I hear political rhetoric that demonizes other parties and calls them the enemy?
How are we all in this together when I hear people scapegoating and looking for others blame?
How are we all in this together when I see stories about hate crimes against Asian-Americans over COVID-19? Or when racism and white privilege continue to go on? Or when I hear pastors demonize the LGBTQIA+ community?
How exactly is any of that equivalent to being all in this together?
I want us to be all in this together. I want us to continue to be all in this together beyond the crisis. I want us to change policies and attitudes and culture and habits to show that we are serious about all of us being in this together. Otherwise, those words are just empty ultimately – nice sentiment that is really about saving our own skin. Not being all in this together when it really matters. And crisis isn’t the only time that being all in this together really matters. It really matters when there isn’t a deadly crisis. It matters because being all in this together is really just another way of living out our faith. It’s how we live out Shalom – wholeness, completeness, tranquility. It’s how we live into the Imago Dei – the image of God. It’s how we love God and our neighbor. It’s how we live into Matthew 25 and how God will judge the nations in relation to the least of these among us.
You see, Jesus has been teaching his followers about being all in this together since the very beginning. Not just when it’s convenient for survival in a crisis. If you don’t practice being all in this together when there is no crisis, then I wonder how well we actually live it out when there is a crisis.
We’re all in this together. Don’t tell me about it. Show me. Show me after this crisis passes. Then I’ll know if its true. Or if it’s a bunch of bull.