This past week, I glanced through an article about Sweden's response to COVID-19. As I understand it, Sweden did (does) not have a government-enforced lock-down. They relied on the citizens to wear masks and physical distance themselves without coercion. This particular article suggested that we should do the same here.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you likely understand my feelings about coercive methods as a means to an end. Nevertheless, I will say that relying on folks, here in the United States, to do what is right, for others - is laughable and downright dangerous. (Yes, my cynicism and distrust are clearly evident today.)
Why? No, really - why do people in other places in the world care more about others than we do? How did we get this “$*&# you” attitude that pervades the U.S.?
Simply stated, many of our traditions are worlds apart. They, on the one hand, have a predominant culture of care and kindness. We can point to a plethora of culturally empathetic traditions all over the globe - not the least being Ubuntu in South Africa (which I have mentioned, here, several times over the years). We, in the U.S., on the other hand, have a culture of competition - stand on (beat down, trick, take advantage of) the person next to you to gain the advantage and, all-important, social status.
I, not surprisingly, believe that toxic competition stems largely from our governmental educational system that is built purely on coercion, rewards, and punishment. Many of us learned from a very early age to do only those things that we are forced to do and to only do them if there is a reward at the end. And, we can, legally, gain dominance by stepping on others on the way to achieving that reward. Additionally, we celebrate when the other guy loses or gets punished. Not to mention that we also have a 400+ year tradition of (largely) unacknowledged white privilege and outright racism that is inextricably woven into this conversation. All of which, I will argue, have all led to the symptoms of bankrupted compassion that are also overwhelmingly evident in our current political climate (I will let that statement stand on its own).
Therefore, why are we surprised that some people are going to object to wearing masks – that their ego trumps (pun intended) empathy and their contempt eclipses respect - that they, absolutely, will protest for their freedom to live their normal lives through a pandemic? And, they will, straight up, fight anyone who suggests that they should change their behaviors out of respect or the health of others. “We live in a free country,” I believe, is the standard quote.
I ask this question in all seriousness, how can this be a free country for all, if, in pursuing your (God-given) freedoms, you impinge on the rights of other folks?
In many cases, this question goes beyond wearing masks, physical distancing, and staying home when ill, it also extends to behaviors and attitudes towards BIPOC, LBGTQA+ folks, and anyone else who has different beliefs or appearance from them.
This quote, from Lauren Morrill (author of YA books), four years ago, about the ACA hearings, which has been misattributed to Dr. Fauci since the outbreak of COVID-19, sums this point up quite nicely: “I don't know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”
We have officially arrived at a place and time where we are lamenting the near extinction of respect and compassion. And, given all the above, I have to ask, again, why are we surprised?
August 3rd - September 4th - 9:00 - 3:00 - Monday - Friday
With a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place, which relies on adapting and utilizing the DRC outdoor spaces for most of our activities and projects, as well as wearing masks, washing hands, and sanitizing surfaces and shared items regularly, we are ready to open our Summer Programs. We are limiting participation to eight kids each day. This is a drop-in program; however, given the restrictions of the pandemic, we are asking that families let us know ahead of time which days they will be attending so we can plan accordingly. Online registration can be accessed through the DRC website. We are also available to answer your questions.
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