“We’re All in This Together”

I’ve seen and heard those words too many times in my life, most recently from a university president explaining why he was choosing to endanger faculty and students by deciding to have an in-person commencement in a month and to open classes in two, despite being in a state where the numbers of new coronavirus cases are at an all-time high and seem likely to go higher.

In a general sense, those words are accurate. If an institution, group, or country faces a problem, it’s likely to affect all those in whatever group is being addressed either directly or indirectly. I’ll grant that.

But what such rhetoric ignores or talks past is that, more often than not, the problem affects those whom the speaker addresses far more than it does the speaker. In the instance above, the university president faces a far smaller risk from Covid-19 than do the professors, instructors, and staff dealing with students. And in terms of age and medical conditions, the faculty and staff face a greater risk than do the students.

If a general or admiral says words like those about a coming military action, they’re unlikely to be the ones wounded or dying. The president of a large public company faced with hard times and possibly failing will certainly come out of a failure better than the vast majority of his employees, and if he turns the company around, he’ll definitely fare better than his employees.

I’ve seldom heard those words from really good leaders, and then usually when that leader was actually in a position similar to those he addressed, but more than a few times from those whose leadership is suspect. Maybe that’s just my experience, but I’ve been in more sectors of the economy, including business, government, and the military, and seen more geographically than most people.

To me, the phrase “We’re all in this together” is all too often an attempt to suggest that everyone shares the burden and the risk equally, to which I’d say in the words of another hackneyed phrase, “Tell me it ain’t so, Joe.”

2 thoughts on ““We’re All in This Together””

  1. Wine Guy says:

    If we are all in this together, then that collegiate president needs to be doing it all right, as well. Distancing, masking, hand and spot sanitizing and he needs to make sure that all of those for whom he is responsible have what they need to stay safe as well. If he does not, then he is complicit in the ongoing saga that is the US failure to cope with COVID-19. >53k new cases announced over the last night.

  2. Cindy says:

    So we too are going back to school…What has been interesting in this weeks attack on teacher from the current admin is that although they float stats about how many kids will die if we go back to school, no one mentions any stats about what % of the faculty will be affected….obviously they don’t really know but also they don’t want to go there because that % will be worse.

    I do wonder however, how many of us faculty will be either dead or permanently affected by this virus at this time next year…

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