It is one of those platitudes that you hear in politics and war or in a peewee football huddle. It is the perfect rallying cry for a march, a rally or a demonstration. Famously, it was the campaign slogan of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tim Kaine as well as the title of their book.
The first time in my life I understood the phrase to actually have teeth and resonance was when my daughter played on a high school club soccer team and they were indeed stronger together. It was a team of committed teens, not one of whom was the star of her high school team, not one of whom stood out as superior to the rest, and all of whom had played together for years. It was not a team that anyone expected great things from because, despite the fundamental interdependence inherent in the team aspect of team sports, people tend to hang their hats on “ringers.” That team was ringer-less, and it proved to be an advantage.
The team played together, symbiotically; it played to the strengths of its players, and as a unit, it compensated for the weaknesses of its players. Together the team was far greater than the sum of its parts. Stronger together, this group of teenage girls won a whole lot of games and tournaments and earned itself a pretty decent ranking.
I learned a lot from watching the success of that team and I am happy that my daughter had that experience to look back on, a life lesson about the potential for group efforts to spark results that would not have been feasible by solo actors.
A society is not stronger when forced together
Implicit in this concept of togetherness is choice. A society is not stronger when forced together. Coerced solidarity is the team of ringers who are all vying to be identified by college scouts and thus do not play a winning game. The concepts of solidarity and coercion stand in paradox.
Now as we, the people of the world, face a global health crisis, we need tools to work together, cooperate and be responsible to the “team.” The team on this playing field is all the peoples of the world, and what each of us does to help the team matters.
There is an app called Syndesy that provides some critical tools to all of us in these challenging times. Syndesy has a Check-Ins feature that allows us all to voluntarily and with the simple press of a button on the home screen, check-in wherever we might be. It thus allows us to keep track of our own movements—where we go and when we are there. All of our check-ins are time-stamped, geo-stamped and date-stamped so that if we ever become infected, we can share our movements with our community and thus warn others we might have come in contact with that they might have been exposed. It is teamwork at the most critical level, and Syndesy is a great facilitator.
I see very clearly now that we are stronger together. If we do not work together, Covid19 will claim our well-being and our freedom for a long, long time. Indeed, unless we face this challenge together, there will be far darker days ahead.