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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Singer

Divided v. United Houses: America and China at the Brink “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

Aesop, the New Testament, and Revolution-era America have each adopted this rallying cry to promote strength and success. As the China-United States relationship descends further into acrimony and strain that threatens to snap, it is helpful to remember this motto. For while neither country is a monolith, it seems striking that America is now a House divided and China is much more a House United.

Two documentaries on the response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China (The lockdown: One month in Wuhan) and (Coronavirus: Life inside China’s lockdown) bring this point home in eloquent and graphic detail. Forget the politics of how it started for a moment and focus on the subsequent marshalling of resources and personnel to combat the disease. The government brought in thousands of medical personnel and built new hospitals in two weeks to treat the ill. The government coordinated people to go door-to-door to check on/keep track of residents and track the spread of the disease. The people of Wuhan were effectively locked inside their homes, and private citizens took to chauffeuring medical personnel to their jobs, to deliver medicines to families in need, and to bring food to those sheltering at home. Listen to their voices as they talk about supporting their countrymen. Feel the emotion in their responses as they describe missing families and working toward the common good. See the dedication and effort that was expended unabated for weeks on end. It is hard not to be moved. This is a House United.

Contrast this with the United States. Weeks and months of downplaying and lying about the potential of an outbreak in America and its impending severity. Misinformation about possible treatments and testing. Lack of preparation of basic resources like masks, gowns, and ventilators. Inadequate funding at all levels for dealing with a pandemic. AWOL Federal leadership, a patchwork of inconsistent State action, and a populace that in many ways still does not accept what the country is facing. Crowded beaches, full bars, bustling playgrounds, each of these has been evidenced this past week alone. Half of the country is scared; the other half believes all is well. This is a House Divided.

“United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” I fear for the House Divided.

--Andrew Singer


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