Why We Should Publicly Mourn Our Dead
“Commonwealth” is an old English word, charming in its implications. It is the idea that we have a political organization based on developing and preserving our common goods.
As of this day, 190,000 Americans are dead as a result of the COVID19 infection. The international pandemic has hit us hard.
One of the functions of a moral commonwealth is to deal with this kind of society wide pain. Historically massive death tolls are not unusual. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are reliable producers of death and disorder.
Truly a wall of death is marching across this country. We often remark on the raw numbers and remark on the death of a significant casualty from time to time but the real toll, the absence and sorrow over these lost lives seldom appears in the public discourse.
Public mourning is one of the duties of the President. It is a vital part of unifying the nation in the face of external and internal threats. For instance, a National Day of Mourning was declared for the death of former President George Herbert Walker Bush.
Yet, no such day has been declared for the many victims of the virus.
I believe that one of the basic elements of business ethics is pursuit of the common good. Another is solidarity in the form of citizenship. Businesses should be regular and committed participants in pursuit of the public good.
This also applies to politics. Celebrating and remembering the lives of the fallen is an act of unification, a public ritual that defines us once again as members of a greater whole, The United States of America.
Would so many deny the reality of the COVID 19 outbreak if we had mourned our dead publicly? Would people refuse to wear masks in the mass numbers we have now if all over this nation there had been public ceremonies honoring the dead?
I don’t think so.
The failure to mourn has been a national catastrophe and has directly contributed to the division and pain in this country.
When our leadership changes, there will be an opportunity to once again celebrate the lives and contribution of the fallen. We should not miss that chance.
James Alan Pilant