Winston Churchill coined the phrase, “We are all in it together,” in a memo to the British Lord Privy Seal and Minister of Food in 1941. He used the phrase again in a speech in 1952. With the advent of America’s cases of COVID-19 in 2020, a similar phrase, “We are all in this together,” is being widely used. After much deliberation, I’ve rearranged my opinion and concluded that we’re NOT all in this together, only some of us are.

Together means close association. If everyone tried to closely associate with all celebrities, millionaires and politicians, they might get arrested for trespassing. A handful of people live on enormous estates with a gym, bowling alley and swimming pool behind large gated walls. Venturing outside those walls is unnecessary because employees handle their business and shopping. Only their invited guests are allowed to journey through their gates.

All means everyone, but not everyone functions alike. Millions of essential heroes put their lives on the line daily and work very hard. Millions more aren’t getting paid. Without money they can’t buy food, and without food they’ll perish. Hordes of citizens and businesses work overtime as heroes to provide food, but their overtime can’t reach everyone.

It’s not uncommon to hear an advertisement playing on American’s apprehensions by claiming, “We are all in this together.” A few retailers, politicians, service providers and celebrities gear their advertisements as though most Americans are slow-witted or gullible. Naturally, they want to increase sales or promote their cause, but some advertisements use slick talking actors wearing $1,000 suits to claim that they only care about others. They imply that they’re not interested in personal gain. Some celebrities currently air their TV shows from their mansions. Perhaps they believe their wealth and life of luxury makes Americans feel better. Most advertisements are geared toward a particular audience, most have a ploy, so most American viewers should beware!

In 1974, I stopped a uniform security guard for a traffic violation. When I asked him for his driver’s license, he said, “Hey man, we’re all in this together, give me a break?” I respected him for his job, but we weren’t in it together. I represented the local government and he represented a private business. I enforced local laws and his powers were limited to his employer’s private property. Some celebrities, politicians and millionaires are not in it together with everyday citizens, like the security guard, their primary interest is personal gain.

The decision that some owners made to open their business has met condemnation by some and praise by others. Countless business owners are concerned that the longer they’re closed, the greater the chance they’ll never reopen. Patronizing a business, however, is now and always has been a personal choice.

Our older generations lived through polio, smallpox, war, measles, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, scarlet fever and many uncertain times, whereas much of our younger generations have never learned sacrifice. Scores of Americans go about their daily routine mocking the pandemic like they’re invincible. They refuse to sacrifice and they believe that COVID-19 has taken away their entitlement.

Social distancing and sheltering in place weren’t meant to eradicate COVID-19, but only to slow down its spread. Some people are angry with open businesses because they fear that serving customers will spread the disease and extend the pandemic. The decision to open businesses or travel in public is a double-edged sword, and a decision that doesn’t have a good solution.

People with limited experience offer their vast lack of experience, and those with a self-centered agenda often provide incorrect information. Both are quick to spout off to anyone willing to listen. America has no shortage of gullible people who believe anything they see or hear, but no one should attach their faith to popular phrases, innuendos, or unproven promises.

Americans seem to latch onto phrases, and “We are all in this together,” is just a phrase. Unfortunately, and sadly, it is often misused. Most Americans didn’t predict the cascading effect of COVID-19, but life will regain normalcy. Our prosperity will return, but not because one person discovered a vaccine for COVID-19. It will restore because Americans once again worked together.

We will succeed by helping others, we will make ourselves happy by helping others, and we will do a lot of little things that will create something big. Our founding fathers came to America because it offered a promise; it still does.

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Charlie Sewell is a retired Powder Springs police chief who lives in Cherokee County. Write to him at retiredchiefsewell@gmail.com

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