We All Are in This Together – what does that even mean?

August 23, 2020

I had a real ‘locust and wild honey’ blog for today – fire-filled electrons to share with anyone who wanted to read it – but then I thought – WHY? Why would I do that – there is enough fire and brimstone being spouted on the airwaves – and it is all judgy and oh, so self-righteously ‘helpful.’  

So, I took a deep breath, even as I was throwing flaming words on the screen, and prayed.  Prayed about what I am hearing these days and the catch phrases that are being bandied about.  The one statement that kept coming to mind was “We’re All in This Together.”  What does that even mean?  The statement seems to have become one of those corporate mission statements; but you know, a mission statement has to be understood in order to be effective – so what in the heck does it mean? And what is ‘THIS’?  

As I sat with the words in the stillness of this day I thought of all that has come to the forefront in the last several months: 

  • COVID-19 challenges
  • Educational and health care challenges
  • Environmental challenges
  • Political challenges
  • Racial and societal challenges
  • Gender challenges

All these challenges impact everyone, but we don’t all seem to be ‘in this’ in the same way. 

  • Some folks are hungry, homeless, profoundly ill, and suffering financial ruin in the midst of COVID, while others are enraged at being inconvenienced by limitations on their ‘self-expression and social mobility’.
  • Healthcare workers work non-stop to heal the never-ending influx of patients on the upswing again because of negligent behaviors among the ‘asymptomatic’ even as educators work non-stop to educate the young while preserving the health of all – while others complain that their work isn’t enough
  • Hurricanes, fires, floods, and pestilence are taking hold everywhere – but concern for victims remains ‘out of sight, out of mind’ by the unimpacted.
  • Politicians are playing a ceaseless game of Gotcha and ramping up the rhetoric, even challenging each other’s faith, all the while pandering to their ‘bases.’ 
  • Diverse racial, cultural, and sexual identities are now more than ever a source of discomfort and anger to those who have taken it on themselves to determine who fits ‘established normative standards of behavior and appearances’ rather than leaving such judgments to God; those deemed as ‘misfits’ become enemies to be diminished and eliminated, rather than accepted as part of the human family loved by God.

As I thought about these things and the statement, ‘we’re all in this together’, I wondered: do we understand what we are saying?  After all, the statement is nothing more than a 21st century revamp of our country’s motto – E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. In other words: 

We (the Human Race) are all in this (the challenge of humanity sharing and living in peace and mutual well-being) together (united as one).

If we understand the statement’s meaning, why aren’t we living into it? After all, isn’t that the goal of a mission statement? 

It’s not my goal – not your goal – but the goal of our Creator. The goal was summarized in the prayer our Lord prayed over Himself, His disciples, and the world: “That they all may be one.”  (John 17): one in joy, one in suffering, one in mutual love, affirmation, and loving accountability; one in forgiveness and reconciliation; one in healing and wholeness.  

Are we really all in this together? 

Folks tell me all the time to ‘get real,’ that I need to ‘live in the real world.’  The irony is the real world is intended to be a unified world; to be united with Christ and, through the power of the Spirit,  live His life into the lives of others.  It’s hard to do; I sure haven’t gotten there, maybe you have, but not me. I’m not even close! However, the Holy Spirit compels me to keep at it, because in order to be ‘real’ – in order to be ‘in this together’ – we must let go of who we think we are, so that we might be who God knows we are. 

However, I don’t always want to do that – I have rights, you know!  

Not so much – as a follower of Christ I am called to give up the rights to myself in order to allow Christ to live in and through me (Galatians 2:20): non-violently, non-judgmentally, with an eye to God’s goal for humanity – that God’s kingdom will ‘come on earth as it is in heaven.’  

So, in the stillness of this day, I continue thinking about what it means to be one of the ‘we’ who ‘are all in this together.’  

  • It means taking on each other’s challenges as though they were mine – which they are, since ‘we are all in this together.’ 
  • It means listening to – rather than judging – each other when we don’t see eye to eye; perhaps if we listen to each other we will come to a place of peaceful understanding so we can go forward as ‘humanity together.’
  • It means a willingness to bring equality to all rather maintaining entitlement for a few.  
  • It means a willingness to take a stand against injustice in a way that brings about equality and goodness ‘for all.’’  
  • It means not only praying for our enemies and saying that we love them, but acting on what we pray and putting our love into action! 

Impossible? Sure is, if we are depending on others to lead the way and choose not to claim our role in this mission statement! Impossible, if we don’t first choose to sit in the stillness and listen for exactly what God intends our role to in this mission to be. I have learned the hard way that effective action requires previous time in prayerful reflection.

So, in the stillness of this day – I invite you to consider:  IF ‘We all are in this together’ – what does that mean to you? In the stillness, listen for God’s powerful answer – then act on what you hear.

And to God be the glory!  AMEN.

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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