I pledge allegiance to liberty and justice for all. I also pledge allegiance to the republic which, despite its admitted mistakes, improves slowly by evolving.
However, the nation I live in can be alarmingly divisible. The nationalism of World War I, World War II and the Cold War, for example, is a history lesson. Even the rallying impetus of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is a tale I was too young to experience. I am told that despite the horror, the American community was strengthened with compassion, support and unity.
The Americans I know reflect this capacity for sympathy and solidarity, but the America I know is not unified by it. Instead, my memory is clouded by the polarizing presidential election of 2016, the #MeToo movement and gun violence in schools. I have seen national problems treated with convenient ignorance and solutions impeded by red tape and apathy.
Like many, I feel disillusioned by America’s failures to act. For a generation that has only ever experienced this idling frustration, it is hard to trust that America even has the capacity to improve.
Then, three months ago, a microscopic virus changed my understanding of America. The outbreak of COVID-19 has turned out to be a struggle of collective support versus selfish apathy, with the outcome ultimately resting on the country’s ability to effectively mobilize.
Sure, there are anomalies that hint at human selfishness and failure to act, but overwhelmingly, people have sacrificed for the greater good. To the greatest extent my generation has ever experienced, I have seen millions of Americans change their lives and government officials meaningfully organize with a common goal.
Though social distancing challenges intimate connections, it has also proven that there is still strength in American indivisibility. This global crisis is a reaffirmation that America can unify to achieve change, and that is a nation worth pledging to.