As of today, 23-Nov-2020, there are 58.7 million cases of known COVID-19 infections and 1.39 million deaths worldwide. There are 12.3 million known infections and 257,000 deaths. In Massachusetts alone we have 200,050 confirmed cases with 10,512 deaths. Although those numbers are all rising, it is the spikes in America that are most alarming.
I say this is alarming, but not surprising. The general attitude of Americans is boorishness and selfishness. Americans travel to another country and expect the populace to speak English. They expect people from other countries visiting America to speak English. They litter, are loud, demand that you adhere to their principles, demand to be the center of attention, and expect their political and religious beliefs to be respected. This last one is ironic since most Americans will disrespect the opinions and beliefs of others.
These aspects of the American mentality are further radicalized by decades of indoctrination that support only the extreme neoliberal capitalism that we are drowning in today. Any policy or program that helps people is demonized as socialism and unamerican, not only by the wealthy investors and military contractors who expect all money to only go to them, but also by many of the people these programs actually help. Although many of those same people will gladly take the help, they do not want other people who they deem unworthy to get that same help. They will gouge their own eyes out in order to spite said “freeloaders”.
There is no more blatant an example of Americans being brainwashed than this principle: Help me but fuck everyone else.
It is easier to blame the homeless for their "choices" than to face the fact that we are a fractured nation that ignores those who fall to the wayside. It is easier to blame addicts for their "choices" than to face the fact that we stigmatize rather than heal addicts AND their families. Homelessness and addiction are caused by any multitude of factors and should be addressed honestly and compassionately as a society. I will write more about this another day. Today I am talking about the pandemic.
Since these factors are not enough to fully manipulate the populace, we are also inundated with media outlets that proport to be news but are less than honest and in some cases, consists solely of propagandist lies. Meanwhile the president of the United States continuously derides legitimate news sources like the New York Times as fake news when they do not push his lies as truth. Thus, Breitbart, One America News Network, American Greatness, 8Chan, QAnon, and Human Events have created an echo chamber for the worst impulses in America, literally feeding hatred and division. That is not to say that the Left doesn’t have their fair share of biased opinion driven news sources because they absolutely do (e.g., MSNBC, Huffington Post, CNN). Add to all that the rescinding of the Fairness Doctrine and the underfunding of investigative journalism and you are left with corporate controlled (and in some cases foreign influenced) toxic echo-chambers.
This has all further stunted the ability of many Americans to think critically. I am not saying that all Americans are dumb. However, there is a very large swath of Americans who do not think clearly, believe anything they hear so long as it supports their worldview, and (most importantly) have a bizarre sense of entitlement regarding their rights. The funny thing about rights is that they all have limits. Those limits are based on the social contract. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. is quoted aptly as saying “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins”.
Herein lies the issue with this pandemic; far too many Americans are actively shitting on the social contract, not to defend liberty or for the greater good, but because they feel entitled. This is a clear example of American privilege at work. Not only do they oppose safety protocols, but many also believe the pandemic is a hoax, or the dangers it poses are over-stated, or that their own entitlement is more important than the safety of another human being.
It is these factors that feed into the general malaise of the American society. We were great periodically, and at moments truly shined, only when we worked together for the greater good (to help our allies or to enhance our own society). At times, our own black souls came through and blotted our history with unsavory and embarrassing sentiments, policies, and actions (such as slavery). Ironically, it is this unity that I speak of that has driven nationalist and navitist sentiments. Misguided need for unity has pushed sentiments and policies like forcing people to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or belioveing that everyone should serve in the military. This also drives America's psychotic insistence on conformity. Unity must be organic, it cannot be forced.
All of this brings me to my original point that the steady spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths is alarming, but not surprising. Go shopping in any store, visit park or landmark, or attend church and you will be confronted by people who will get into your personal space, stop and linger, while some even want to touch you in some manner (handshaking, hugs, etc.). Many will wear masks but ignore the other safety protocol. Some will haphazardly tie a bandana to their face but then get up close to you.
Shopping has become my own personal hell. Most of the things I want or need I can order online and have it delivered. However, there are some things I need to go get for my family. I try to respect other people’s health and safety. I try not to disrespect someone’s political views. However, we are also in the middle of a fucking pandemic of a virus we still do not fully understand. Yet, when I go out it is as if everyone has already decided that safety protocols should be ignored, and everything is back to normal. Thus, these lumbering lummoxes squeeze past you in the aisle, stop right next to you and linger, gather in clusters when they see friends, and so on.
When I go down an aisle, the first thing I do is distinguish what direction the aisle flow is identified as. Then I follow that rule (sometimes going up a different aisle in order to come down the aisle I want to shop in). If someone else is in the aisle, I will wait patiently for them to move before I move.
Sometimes it can take a couple of hours to navigate Shaws or Target. Stop and Shop and Market Basket are completely mismanaged clusterfucks and do not deserve to be patronized. Walmart is filled with the most moronic people and should be avoided at all costs.
But I digress.
When other people come down the aisle the wrong way, I turn my back to them until they pass. I have not confronted these miscreants yet, but I am coming close to losing that battle. I saw a store employee filling out delivery orders and she was going the wrong way down the aisle. I asked her “How can we expect customers to follow the arrows for an aisle if you ignore them too.” Her answer “I don’t know” and then she walked away.
Still people cluster together and block aisles as they all push to get in and out, creating traffic jams. These people I have started to confront in my usual way. For example, as I waited for the lady in front of me to move, I was blocked in by another woman and her daughter who parked next to me in the aisle and came within my personal space. I then sarcastically stated “Let’s all just gather here during a pandemic. Just ignore social distancing and safety protocols. Just keep going about your day.”
She looked at me like I had three heads and walked off.
That is just the people who seem oblivious to the dangers of the pandemic; to themselves, their families, and everyone else they dry hump in the supermarket aisles. There is another phenomenon I have noticed, where people ask, “are you waiting to get by?” and I say yes, then they say, “go ahead” and expect me to walk by them. If I point out that the aisle is not six feet wide, they get angry, or shake their heads, of talk shit as they stomp off. Sometimes I even politely say “It’s okay I will wait”, only to have them get upset that I am not dry humping them in the aisle.
Last week I was in Roche Bros and the delivery shoppers were filling orders. I was down one aisle when an employee was coming down the wrong way. A second employee passed me in the aisle without a word (within a foot of me because everything is back to normal now, right?). The two met and chatted for a minute then started grabbing things off the shelf. The employee going the wrong way asked me if I was waiting to get by. I said Yes and she stepped back less than a foot and said, “go ahead”. When I said, “that’s not six feet” she exclaimed “Oh God!” and then stormed past me, completely disregarding my concerns and my right to safely shop.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect people to stay six fucking feet away from me during a fucking pandemic.
I have heard the arguments about mask mandates being unconstitutional (they are not). When asked what part of the constitution does a mask mandate violate and the answer is a paraphrasing of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, which reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
What about my and my family’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us not forget that all rights have limits. If you want to believe that the pandemic is a government plot to control you, or that the threat is simply overstated, that is your right. But your right to be uninformed, ignorant, and foolish ends where my and my family’s safety begins.
The reason why we are seeing a major spike across America of COVID-19 infections and deaths is because Americans are callous, privileged self-centered, prima donnas. Why do I say that? Because during a global crisis, Americans cannot wait two minutes for the person in front of them in the aisle to move. They cannot follow a simple arrow on an aisle or just stay at least six feet away from another person. This makes every person who does these things a callous, privileged self-centered, prima donna.
Before you start defending their actions as Pandemic Fatigue, most of these prima donnas where pulling this same shit back in March and April and all the way through the summer. A lot of these people have gathered in clusters at private parties or restaurants without warning anyone else of their actions. This is a big joke to a lot of young people.
I try to be sympathetic and not make assumptions. But the people of Massachusetts are making it difficult to care about anyone's reasons for ignoring safety measures and jeopardizing the safety of others. There is no excuse. If you are acting this way, you are a sheep. You are clearly being manipulated by actual fake news. There, now I called you out. So how do we move on? We must compromise.
Compromise number one: How can you keep your conspiracy theory beliefs and still allow me to be safe?
The first answer is don’t be in such a hurry. You are not so important that you must jeopardize everyone’s safety so you can get your shopping done. If you have family members to go pick-up, you must plan better. Don’t go shopping just before you have to pick up the kids. This isn't 2019 anymore. Shopping is no longer a quick in and out. We must all be respectful of the public space and of each other.
This leads me to the second answer, which is to respect other people’s safety and give them space. Those safety conscious people have just as much right as you to pursue life, liberty and happiness. You are not allowed to inject people with a syringe full of Ebola or purposefully infect a lover with A.I.D.S., and so you cannot jeopardize people during a pandemic just because you want to make a political point or return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.
Most of all, you must be a fucking adult. I know that is ironic for me to say as I channel my anger and disgust into my blog, but you have given me no reason to respect you. Now, if you will start using your brain for critical thinking and your conscience to care about others, we can work together with mutual respect. Then, we can overcome COVID-19 and pretty much anything else we set our sights on.