A common idiom holds that there are two sides of a coin. The interpretation of this saying, or dichotomy, is a contrast between oppositional perspectives. Philosophically, I’ve always held that with any concept you can conceive of its opposite. Simple examples are left/right, up/down or matter/anti-matter.
I am a monotheist and so were the ancient Hebrews when they were conquered and enslaved by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC. The primary religion of ancient Babylonia was Zoroastrianism. This religion believed in a cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil. This notion of competing opposites (Babylonian dualism) influenced Judaism which later conceptualized a malevolent force of evil (the Devil) in opposition to God’s goodness.
The coronavirus has intensified the American political dichotomy. However, I believe we have moved far beyond the differences of opinion between Republicans and Democrats. Though the two main political parties still march under these ensigns, I don’t believe either exists as originally conceived. We now have the party of Trump and its polar opposite, the party of Pelosi. Poor ole Joe is a mere figurehead – at best.
The political dichotomy is extreme, driven by enmity evident in the daily White House briefings. The Democrat progressive press hates Trump, and the president does not have warm feelings for the media or Pelosi’s propaganda machine. Similarly, Pelosi’s Democrat progressive party opposes anything Trump proposes. And America suffers because of this modern civil war, as divisive as the American Civil War period with poisonous enmity between the Northern Unionists and Southern separatists.
We are approaching a decision point regarding reopening our economy or remaining isolated in our caves. The dichotomy is the choice of life or livelihood. We may be temporarily safe in isolation, but eventually we will starve physically and emotionally. Our country cannot survive being shut down and “boarded-up.” Ezekiel Emmanuel, Obama’s medical ethics advisor, said we should keep the country shut down for eighteen months, until we have a vaccine. You realize there’s no vaccine for HIV, the common cold or a host of other diseases. Though I believe there will be an effective vaccine for COVID-19, at this point it is only a hope. If we follow such advice, the country will be lost and so will our children’s future. We must live as free men or we are already dead.
Recently, I’ve read several articles extolling the virtues of the American shut down. With less industry and automobile use there has been less CO2 production and decreased smog. I find it interesting that those so concerned about anthropogenic, (manmade) global warming may be horrified to learn that the internet requires increasingly vast amounts of electricity, largely produced by fossil fuels. Shut down the economy and the lights will go out along with the Net. Ayn Rand envisioned this outcome in her magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged.”
The Master once said, “Those with eyes will see” (Mark 8:18). There are many dichotomies around us for those not visually impaired. Whether you like science fiction or not, most are familiar with the Spock character of Star Trek. Mr. Spock was a man of pure reason, having gone through a process to shed himself of emotional concerns. The dichotomy of reason and emotion is operative in virtually all of us and in virtually every real world situation. A pathologic medical exception is a sociopath who is unable to feel emotions or have empathy for others.
Though I am a rational man, I have an emotional side which affords me a balance when considering the opinions of others. I believe the shut-down of America was a reasoned decision based on observing coronavirus infections in other countries and theoretical models. Unfortunately the latter have been proven repeatedly wrong. Now, the emotion of fear is gripping the country and paralyzing us. And I am appalled that some are now interjecting filthy politics into the equation. From her mansion, Pelosi has warned Trump not to open the economy. Similarly, Wall Street types are telling the president to keep America boarded-up because they are getting richer as Main Street goes broke.
Easter is behind us, but another dichotomy was posed by Pilate in his interrogation of Jesus. He asked the Master, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Is truth to be found in facts, and if so whose facts? The modelers of climate change and Covid-19 present their projections as factual. And yet actual observations have over and over proved them wrong. So, why do we continue to accept these “divinations” as facts, recognizing that no one can predict the future. Jesus said so himself.
We have entered a time of extreme danger. Not only are we facing a severe recession, the real possibility of a self-inflicted Great Depression is increasingly likely. And now with the revelations of China’s coronavirus malfeasance and deception, world retaliation may produce a new cold or hot war.
Pelosi’s Democrat progressives will have to decide whether they side with China or America.
I comprehend the conundrum we face. If we open the country for business people will die of Covid-19, heart attacks and cancer. If we don’t open the country people will die of Covid-19, heart attacks, cancer, poverty, suicide and hopelessness.
As a doctor and geriatrician, I have often discussed the dichotomy of safety/freedom when counseling families as their loved ones begin to fail and decisions need to be made balancing freedom and security. Most accept the risk of freedom rather than incarceration and safety. Most would rather die with their boots on rather than parked under their bed.
I pray New Hampshire’s motto of “Live free or die” still resonates in the hearts of Americans, and our countrymen will choose wisely.