“Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” the former president said in a video posted Saturday. “In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants — we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise. God bless you all.”
Released by the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the video included Bush’s audio against the backdrop of various images, including those of people holding American flags.
His comments came as the country reels from steep unemployment, increasing death counts and political fights over how to respond to the crisis.
“This is a challenging and solemn time in the life of our nation and world — a remorseless, invisible enemy threatens the elderly and vulnerable among us. A disease that can quickly take breath and life. Medical professionals are risking their own health for the health of others, and we’re deeply grateful,” Bush said.
“Officials at every level are setting out the requirements of public health that protect us all, and we all need to do our part,” he continued. “The disease also threatens broader damage, harm to our sense of safety, security and community. The larger challenge we share is to confront an outbreak of fear and loneliness. And it is frustrating that many of the normal tools of compassion — a hug, a touch — can bring the opposite of the good we intend. In this case, we serve our neighbor by separating from them.”
“We cannot allow physical separation to become emotional isolation. This requires us to be not only compassionate but creative in our outreach — and people across the nation are using the tools of technology and the cause of solidarity. In this time of testing, we need to remember a few things. First, let us remember that we have faced times of testing before. Following 9/11, we saw a great nation rise as one to honor the brave, to grieve with the grieving and to embrace unavoidable new duties. And I have no doubt — none at all — that this spirit of sacrifice is alive and well in America. Second, let us remember that empathy and simple kindness are essential, powerful tools of national recovery. Even at an appropriate social distance, we can find ways to be present in the lives of others — to ease their anxiety and share their burdens.”
“Third, let’s remember that the suffering we experience as a nation does not fall evenly,” Bush added. “In the days to come, it will be especially important to care for the elderly, the ill, and the unemployed.”
Author: Sam Dorman