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BJ DRYE COLUMN: Let our country stand united

Talk of unity has been all around in the last week.

On Monday we were talking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We usually have a unity prayer breakfast in remembrance of him, but, like many things of the past year, COVID prevented it.

On Tuesday, the incoming president and vice president had a moment of silence to observe the more than 400,000 who have died of COVID in this country.

On Wednesday we watched as a new president and vice president were sworn in. We now have the first woman and the first person of color as our vice president. We watched as three former presidents gathered in support of the new one.

We had a guy in a cowboy hat share the day with a 22-year-old Black poet, something you don’t see every day.

Back when Dave Chappelle hosted “Saturday Night Live” just after the election in 2016, he said, “I’m wishing Donald Trump luck, and I’m going to give him a chance.”

I think we should do the same thing for President Biden.

But people have to be willing.

And we have to be willing to join together at all levels, even locally.

We get bashed often for being against the former president, yet we were there to cover a rally of his supporters when Sen. Ted Cruz came to town early last year. We’ve covered presidential candidates for Republicans and Democrats through the years. We’ve also, unfortunately, had to cover hate-filled rallies.

That’s not what Stanly County is, or, at least, it is not what it should be.

If we can get this virus out of here, isn’t that a good thing, no matter who is president?

That 400,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 is rapidly approaching the level of deaths in the 1918 pandemic. Back then, they didn’t have all the resources and science to tell them of how quickly the virus was spreading and how bad it was. It has already surpassed the number of Americans who died in World War II.

This virus is turning into a war among us. Why can’t we be united against it?

We now have resources and many in our community ignore to acknowledge them. What is so hard about wearing a mask and staying away from people? We should have already been washing our hands more anyway. So that’s a good thing to come out of the last year.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has called this pandemic the fourth great crisis this country has faced, along with the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II.

In his inaugural address, President Biden mentioned how in some ways we are facing elements of all these scenarios at once. He said:

“Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now.

“A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country.

“It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.

“Millions of jobs have been lost.

“Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.

“A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

“A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear.

“And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

“To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words.

“It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy:

“Unity.”

As we gave President Trump a chance, let’s give President Biden a chance.

The country united is our success.

And that is no malarkey.

B.J. Drye is general manager and editor of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123, or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.