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Are we in this together?

To the editor:

Almost all nations on Earth are governed by representatives of competing political parties. In normal times, there’s probably something to be said for people of contrasting views hammering out compromise solutions. But, we don’t live in normal times.

In times of great crisis, the problem with habitual competition is that most of us don’t seem to know when it’s time for the artificial team play to end and for collaboration and cooperation to take its place. For example, it’s discouraging to hear legislators publicly pat themselves on the back for their willingness to “reach across the aisle.” Seriously? You want to be rewarded for occasionally acting like an adult?

The deficits borne of habitual competition can be seen in our herky-jerky response to the coronavirus pandemic. While Democrats endlessly blame Republicans and vice-versa, the opportunistic virus unrelentingly goes on about its deadly work in the dark, much like those murderous tyrants ruling Russia, China, and North Korea.

People have to be taught to habitually opt for competition as their go-to response to any challenging situation. Fomenting competition over all else is the unspoken currency of our educational system. AP classes, honor rolls, gifted student programs, tracking, “best-and-brightest rhetoric, and college scholarships are indicators of the celebration of competition in education. Creating winners and losers is the unmentionable subtext of schooling and its unquestioning purveyors.

College students were always quite put out when I would explain to them that it is the mass of “average” students, paying full or near-full tuition, that funds the scholarships for the few “whiz kids” who enjoy full-rides. In the education business, it’s called “tuition discounting.”

Turns out, it’s the greater mass of working Americans who have become conditioned to be thankful for a lifetime of living off the table scraps of our Wall Street and corporate overlords. Welcome back to precolonial England, folks!

Meanwhile, those who’ve come to believe they are the “best and the brightest” isolate themselves in their home offices tinkering with their portfolios, while the Overlord in Chief orders the very same immigrant workers he detests, derides, and deports back to their work stations in the virus-filled meat processing plants.

Remember why the forefathers that you worship came here in the first place. Either everybody counts or nobody counts.

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