Is American Exceptionalism working against us in these times? Americans don’t like to be told what to do; however, they will come together in solidarity to help, protect, care for, and save fellow Americans. Does wearing a mask require and deserve our solidarity?
As Americans, we love our freedom and independence. But in certain times when we need to all come together and make personal sacrifices for the greater good, we sometimes under-perform other nations. For those Americans that don’t perceive the coronavirus as a clear and present danger, they think and act as they choose, but not as a united nation. For many Americans, the coronavirus is abstract and is not perceived as a clear and present danger because they can’t see it, touch it, understand it, believe it, even though science and data confirm the virus is an existential health and economic crisis of enormous scope. It is a tragic irony that our fierce and independent Americanism we are so proud of is working against us and not uniting us, but dividing us at this critical time.
It is a difficult leadership moment in history for politicians at the federal, state and local levels to know the right balance between
- guidance and directives emphasizing safety and the protection of lives, vs.
- Trump’s “banzai charge” to give the virus the finger (mask-less) while misleading, egging on and cajoling citizens back to work and students/teachers back to school asap to serve his personal reelection objectives while he has zero empathy or regard for how many lives may be lost.
Striking the right balance is the key, but where and how to strike the balance between livelihoods & lives has to be one of the most difficult and critical in our lifetimes. The criteria people are using to inform their opinions/decisions are all over the map: risk/reward, science, data, religion, politics, conspiracy theories, gut instinct, and one’s basic need to survive.
Should our goal be to minimize mortality (Focused Protection vs lockdowns) and social harm until we reach herd immunity?
However we decide to strike the balance, we must return to the principle that during times of existential crisis, Americans must unite as a nation and a family that pulls together to protect home and household. If one family member needs a little more help today, that’s ok because in the future that member can help another who is in need. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, by doing the simple things that protect us all (masks, distancing, washing hands).
In this moment of crisis, we Americans should be one in solidarity and love.