I don’t understand why anyone is surprised that Americans are incapable of following “stay at home” orders. This is the country of “Honey Boo Boo,” anti-vaxxers, Joe Exotic, and Neo-Nazis holding public office. We aren’t exactly the cream of the crop, as countries go, even though we think we are.

Here in New Jersey, while “stay at home” orders haven’t been lifted, the governor nevertheless opened up state parks today, and some local businesses that have employed strict rules are lifting some of those tighter restrictions.

Judging from what I’m hearing, it’s almost as if everyone thinks they done did a good job quarantinin’ and now they’re all finished up and able to hop back to it!

I’m sorry, I’m afraid I missed that memo. There is still no vaccine and until there either is a vaccine or there’s herd immunity in over 70% of the population, it is not safe to go about business as usual. So, why are people acting all of a sudden like the virus that’s still widespread has suddenly vanished?

It’s almost like there’s something hard-wired in Americans, a kind of culturally-ingrained response that guarantees we’ll always do the opposite of what would be wise, measured, and loving. I think American culture breeds a certain kind of person that brings out our very worst.

Americans are selfish and lack empathy. It’s the behavior of a sociopath and a terrorist when someone shows up on the steps of a state capital storming into the building with a long rifle and demanding the country reopen–human lives be damned. I can understand the importance of a functioning economy when we’ve idiotically tied our health insurance to our job security, but the behavior of these citizens is traitorous, and it’s a goddamn shame that if the protesters had been armed black men, the police in this country would have gunned them down before they crossed the street to the state capitol. Instead, the police risked their own lives standing there like impotent little men while the “Flu Klux Klan” screamed in their faces without masks. I guess that’s just inevitable when a country spends decades talking up its exceptionalism, and if you’re a white, privileged, cis- male, you come to think that exceptionalism is yours and yours alone.

Americans are stupid and uneducated. Simply put, we built a generation of citizens who were spoon fed what to think and never taught how to think. And so it didn’t matter that they could pass the right multiple choice tests or regurgitate the same talking points they were fed over and over. Truth is the first casualty in a crisis, but it doesn’t become a casualty as quickly or as easily if the people are trained to think critically of themselves and their leaders. We cannot function as a society when a leader says to inject disinfectants and people start doing it.

Americans are manipulated by the media and by our leaders. So, it’s not just the education system that has failed us. That’s been coupled with a media ecosystem that has worked to confuse and exhaust us, leaving us to question the very foundations of our society, of facts, even when there’s abundant evidence to the contrary of what we’re being told day-in and day-out. If the president assembles a task force to deal with a crisis and then contradicts his own task force, contradicts experts, and relies on the media eco-chamber to make and announce his decisions–an eco-chamber that’s equally built on lies–trust is ultimately eroded. So, of course people are calling to reopen the country. The president flip-flops between a message of “stay at home” and “reopen” constantly. Sometimes he flat-out gish gallops, speaking nonsense to overwhelm us so we aren’t able to focus on any one particular lie. Fascism cannot come to a country without a complicit media.

Americans are motivated by fear. And when it comes to a fight or flight response, the country is not capable of choosing the hard path the way our grandparents did during international crises of their own generations. We’re a society that looks for someone to blame when we’re afraid–immigrants, minorities, gays, anybody but ourselves, because we cannot handle looking within. When terrifying things happen, a measured response rooted in facts, even scary facts, would be wise. But we don’t have the ability to stomach anything that’s scary with a measured, nuanced attitude. We respond with our gut, with emotions, the kind that lead us to act rashly. We prefer superficiality, because anything else is a threat and threats should be done away with–with brute force and machismo. It’s ironic really: for so many of these protesters, it’s economic and physical death they fear the most, and both are exactly what they will guarantee, even usher in, by responding in the hysterical way they do. It’s hard not to feel as though they deserve what they get, and if they were the only ones getting it, it would be easy to feel that way, but they will bring economic and physical death to all of us–all because they are terrified snowflakes.

Finally, Americans are lacking the coping mechanisms needed to deal with this degree of isolation. These people are not self-actualized. The idea of confronting constant boredom, of being alone, of sitting with your thoughts all day is hard enough, emotionally-taxing even, for someone who’s mentally healthy. Imagine being someone who was operating at the bottom rung of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” even before a pandemic. If the only thing keeping you indoors and staying at home is because someone you do not trust told you to do so, the likelihood that you’re going to continue following those rules is almost nonexistent. To this regard, there’s a kind of cognitive dissonance at play: you have to believe this virus is a hoax and that the leaders are trying to take your freedom, because you cannot bring yourself to face every painful reality that comes with the cabin fever that self-isolation causes. Americans simply are not emotionally capable of handling this gargantuan task. They’re like children who never grew out of the simplest stages of being a basic human being, which should be obvious by the way they act.

So, no, I’m not surprised that this is where we find ourselves. If anything, I’m surprised our leaders, even the smarter, more measured ones who still rely on science, seem to think Americans would have been able to handle it in the first place. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I’m surprised so many politicians thought we were a country that was functional enough to live through a pandemic.

A pandemic that kills, potentially, hundreds of thousands–while not the fault of Americans–is nevertheless the logical conclusion of decades of a society being run into the ground–by a failed education system, a broken media, corrupt leadership, and a fearful populous with no mental health safety net.

Or to put that another way, we are royally fucked.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s