I started reading Ashley’s blog today and was responding to it, but quickly realized I was writing my own blog in her comments section and should probably move it to an actual entry.
It commented on another blog’s piece about Entitlement and Patriotism. I went and read part of what she linked to and I think there is an interesting juxtaposition there, but I think this really comes down to a simple, yet utterly complex situation.
First, as an aside, I think patriotism is a red herring these days. I don’t know what it means to most people today, but for me, it’s always meant the willingness to defend the freedoms of the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Bill of Rights. It’s ironic, but those gun-toting yahoos that seem to value getting haircuts and dine-in restaurant service are actually doing exactly what the veterans fought for — they are protesting against their country. I 100% believe protesting against your country (if you’re American — see your own charter in different countries) is as patriotic an act as defending it. The catch is that protesting is ALWAYS patriotic, even if you don’t agree with the subject or topic. That’s where most people get lost in today’s climate. Seeing both sides of things objectively and having a real “live and let live” attitude is impossible, and people aren’t even willing to fake it anymore.
If you’re an American, you seem almost required to pick one of two sides and vehemently defend it these days, and if you’re not going along with the group-think of your side, regardless of the topic, then there is something wrong with you. On an intellectually level, there is so much hypocrisy on both sides that is seems pointless and hopeless to address it.
I don’t think the root problem of all of this is politics, or at least not recent politics. I think that these are long lists of disagreements, resentments, philosophical differences and grudges that go back generations in many circumstances. Everybody thinks they’re the “good guy” and anybody who doesn’t subscribe to their social, fiscal, political, professional, educational and spiritual agenda is the “bad guy”.
I truly believe that if you burrowed down to the core of things, you’d find that a lot of these animosities grew and have simmered for generations out of major events like the Civil War and the Great Depression. Many people were forced to make compromises with their existing values system and way of life during those events and I think the animosity of having to change has carried through generations.
I believe for most, more than 9/11, more than any armed conflicts 9,000 miles away that may or may not be wars, more than any other act of terrorism, any change in party at the top of the federal government, or any other major event in their lifetimes, that most Americans have never had their way of life so radically changed as quickly as the COVID-19 epidemic caused it to change.
Nearly overnight, everything was cancelled — schools, restaurants, churches, sports — our entire way of life was cancelled. It took several weeks to let the initial hysteria, and frankly, novelty, of the whole thing to die down. Despite the fact the body count continues to grow, “the new normal” everyone talks about is well underway. There is not going to be a line we cross into the new normal. This is it…and more and more people are recognizing it and either adapting, or fighting the change.
This situation has forced all of us to compromise our ways of life and for some, that’s no longer acceptable. They are either unable or unwilling to balance scientific evidence and public health against their personal wants, needs and belief system. They view the government as forcing them to change their way of life and have reached a point where that is unacceptable.
Of course, the question then becomes what real recourse do they have aside from puffing out their chest with their guns in their state capitals? The reality is, not much, and that recognition and acceptance is even more difficult than making day-to-day changes.
Not surprisingly, the attitudes of these people seem to fall just about perfectly in line with the social, political, etc., tribe they were already a part of and the philosophy to which they already subscribed. But here’s the thing… until they really start breaking laws, especially ones that compromise other’s legit safety, they’re not doing anything but protesting, bitching, complaining, etc., that they haven’t already been doing before the pandemic started.
And for the people on the other side, bitching that not enough people are wearing masks, that the way the other side does its “mortality math” and how quickly they want things to return to normal — chill out a bit. Are you really as angry and pissed as you claim or do you feel like you just need to represent your side of things?
Unlike almost all political, social, fiscal, etc., arguments the two sides have had in our lifetimes, this is one where we can keep score. In a perverse, disgusting, eye-for-an-eye, beautifully poetic, survival-of-the-fittest, science-will-declare-the-victors kind of way, this disagreement comes with a body count.
In 25 years, History Channel will be showing documentaries about this time and we’ll know how it all shook out. The people who continued to quarantine, social distance, and be hyper-vigilante about their health will be shown to be total fools, or the ones who had the right idea. The ones who demanded everything go back to normal because “the cure can’t be worse than the disease” will find out that they were wrong, or that they were correct. Right now, nobody knows that answer and those who claim they do are just trying to recruit you to their side.
Do what you you think is right and don’t worry about your neighbor or your President. There will eventually be a final score, and while the vast majority of those who have died to this point are victims in the true sense of the word, I don’t know if that’s going to be as true moving forward. If you think being in a crowded restaurant is OK, go for it. If you think it’s not, get take-out. Here’s what’s great about this situation. You control you. You can accept or reject the risk. And in the end, if you were correct, you can point to the other side and say, “You see, morons, I was right!” Or, in some cases, you can point to their next of kin and say it.
I don’t care what side you pick. I truly don’t. I just ask that before you pick a side, you divorce yourself of the group-think for a moment and do what’s right for you and your family, not what your peer group has mindlessly agreed is the right track.
I think Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” will be a great song to play over the montage, if the body count continues to go up, in those documentaries in 2045.