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Updated: Aug 28, 2020

April 9, 2020

Last night I dreamt about Boris Johnson. The UK’s prime minister has the virus and he was admitted to the ICU two days ago. I don’t personally know anyone who has been hospitalized with COVID-19, which may be why I dreamt about Boris Johnson — maybe my anxiety just needed someone to fall on. For some reason it chose Boris Johnson rather than, say, Tom Hanks, whom I have always liked a lot more, honestly.

But I dreamt about Boris, and in the dream I was very concerned about him. I didn’t care at all that he’s the UK’s approximate equivalent to Trump. (They even look bizarrely alike!) I just wanted him to get well.

I feel the same when I’m awake. Yes, I care about what’s happening in the world, I care that (in my opinion) a lot of disastrous decisions are being made by certain leaders right now, whether in the UK, Brazil, Hungary, other places, or here. They're taking rash action based on a ruthless disregard for the planet, extreme policies that favor the corporations over individuals, fanciful thinking, and maybe pure panic. Then there is an appalling disregard for the public outcry that often follows these actions.

In my lifetime, in my country of origin, there’s always b

een a high regard for fairness — or for maintaining the appearance of fairness, at least. There’s been a desire to keep “the other side” happy … maybe just to look like the good guy, or to keep the peace. But still. Knowing each side was thinking about the other side gave us a place to stand. Leaders like Ted Kennedy, known as the Lion of the Senate in his lifetime, FDR, Ronald Reagan, even Nixon, accepted the inevitability of giving — at least a little, at least some of the time — in the process of governing.

All that went out the window when Trump came to town.

In this era, there is really the sense among liberals that we are being beaten up. Trump doesn’t follow other leaders, no matter how hallowed. He only plays by his own rules, and they’re pretty brutal. He doesn’t want the other guy to lose 40/60, or even 20/80. He wants him to lose 0/100.

I put it that way on purpose. For him it’s not just about winning, it’s also about making the other side lose.

I don’t think anyone reading this over my shoulder would disagree, whether the person was liberal or conservative. (By the way they need a new name. There’s nothing conservative about today’s GOP.) The level of animosity has risen in this country to the point that nowadays everything is a fight to the death.

And as you might expect, we’re all dying. Until recently, we weren’t literally dying. But we were dying, all right.

When Trump was impeached a few months ago, the Democrats technically “won.” But then when the matter went to the Senate, Republicans “won” by acquitting him, even though he admitted to doing what he was accused of. In the end, who really won? Polling showed that the majority of people in America thought badly of both parties. It was like those scenes on westerns where both cowboys draw and shoot at the same time, and both fall down dead.

I would love to go back to that cool thing, the win-win. First introduced in the 1960’s, the win-win model has been used by countless business gurus since — not by Donald Trump, and probably not by Jack Welch, either, but by a lot of other big names in deal-making. Forbes, for instance, has created something called a Coaches’ Council that is based on the win-win model. I bet Trump — and Boris Johnson, too — think pretty highly of Forbes.

I still have faith that we can find ways to work together in this country. I don’t hate the people across the aisle, whether or not they hate me. But I think we all have to start wanting to get along again. It serves some interests for us to fight the way we have been fighting. We have been manipulated, yes. But we can stop anytime we want. It’s up to us.

I don’t care what Boris John’s politics are. I hope he lives. When I pray (and like a lot of people, I pray a lot these days), I only ever pray for good outcomes, I don’t care who it is. I bet most people are doing the same. I’m even hoping we can use the horrors of this time to find our way back together again as a nation.

Life doesn’t have to be as bad as we’ve been making it. And I think we better get it together since this virus has no intention of letting up on us anytime soon. We’re not in charge. It is. Sad but true.

We need to face the fact that we’re looking at a pretty harsh future, at least for a while. We will be going in and out of quarantine, the experts tell us, as the virus subsides and rises up again. Our economy is in tatters. Many of us are newly unemployed. We’re going to need all of our resources to solve these real problems, so we’d be smart to spend our energy wisely. Personally, I think disliking each other is one of the worst ways to spend it. We don’t have to agree with everyone else. (This is still America!) But we can disagree and still respect each other. Maybe when we have been battered by this virus enough, we'll even remember how to get along again.

I wonder how many of us can even picture that.

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