Dependence Day–What We Need on this July 4th

It is July 4, 2020.   Independence Day.

But what’s there to celebrate?

In terms of instant gratification, restaurants are closed, firework displays canceled, family gatherings shunned.

Covid-19 does not look at a calendar, sees a holiday and takes a day off.  In America yesterday, 53,000 people tested positive for it and close to 600 people died.  This virus remains untamed not so much in the whole world, but mainly in America.

Remember America?  The greatest country on earth.  The one place where people from all backgrounds can plant their flag and have opportunities nowhere else to be found.   Geographically, it is a land mass of 50 different states.  Kansas is not Hawaii is not Florida is not California.  Yet the name of the country has been the UNITED states for 244 years.

At no time in my lifetime has the United States seemed so divided.  The coronavirus has given a test to Americans:  can they roll up their collective sleeves and tame this malicious malady?  Can they follow basic ways to protect themselves and others by wearing masks, keeping apart and washing their hands?

After four months, the answer is “No.”   The 2020 version of the U.S. is not the 1941 version or the 1929 version where most Americans worked together for a common foe be it a financial collapse or a threat to democracy.  What happened to those type of people that used to be plentiful?

As a nation, we don’t all trust science.  We challenge scientists and doctors.  These aren’t politicians who have agendas.  These are intelligent people who study evidence and come to conclusions.  Too many people think they are wrong.

That’s a problem.  Because if we all can’t agree that Covid-19 is highly contagious, that if you contract it you will be very sick and depending on your biology could die from it, then we can’t agree that the sun is in the sky during the day and the moon appears at night.  Facts don’t exist.

But the most important fact about Covid is that the majority of people who contract it are asymptomatic.  They feel fine, no signs of illness.

That aspect of the virus is the cruelest because it gives people a false sense of security that they can beat this thing or, worse, that it is a big hoax.

When people think of the word “pandemic” they picture millions upon millions around the globe dying.   Thank goodness most people who have it won’t die.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.

Think of a serial criminal that has broken into several homes in your community.  Have you seen the criminal yet?  No.  Do you know anyone who has?  No.  So logic leads you to a wrong conclusion—the criminal does not exist for only one reason—he hasn’t reached your house yet.

Why do people allow themselves to be fooled in believing that if something bad hasn’t happened to them that means it doesn’t exist?

There is a worst disease out there.  It is selfishness.  That seems to be a trait common among many.  Is that how we define “united” these days?   Live one’s life any way you want, to hell with everyone else?   Because that describes many today.

Journalist Damon Linker who writes for TheWeek.com explains what is happening this way:  “It amounts to a refusal on the part of lots of Americans to think in terms of the social whole—of what’s best for the community, of the common or public good.”

Two trends over the past decades have contributed to the decline in people thinking of others:  one, the decline in parents teaching values, two, the elimination in schools teaching citizenship.

The old saying of reaping what one sows is happening in front of our eyes right now.   It has taken years for this to grow and it will take years for Americans to reset and learn not only what it means to be American, but what it means to be human.

 

 

Breaking News: A Car Wash Re-Opens

Folks, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A rainbow is on the horizon.

Carefully, gingerly, life is coming back.

Today my wife and I went to get our cars washed.  Not at a self-serving cement partition with a water wand, but a real full-service car wash with employees cleaning, vacuuming, shining our cars.  One of the attendants was amazed to see the size of our gratuity.

If it weren’t practically illegal not to mention unhealthy, we would have given everyone we saw there a wraparound, squeeze ‘em tight hug.

Hallelujah!  It almost felt as jubilant as the day we got married.

You mean, we can actually go to a place of business and do our business there, not take out, not have it delivered, but actually get serviced on the premises?

Yep!  Just as it used to be, just 9 short (not really) weeks ago.

It felt so liberating.  After months of limited our errands to markets, gas stations and takeout, going to the car wash felt like hopping on a plane to Hawaii.  A trip.  A journey.  A holiday away from the stay-at-home, lockdown, claustrophobic atmosphere that I still have not gotten used to.

What’s next?  Will our dog groomer soon open her doors?  How about a haircut?  Will a reservation be taken for a dining experience in July or June or end of May?  An overnight getaway?  I have already received an email from a favorite inn in Santa Barbara announcing their re-opening and at 20% off.

I can smell it coming.  I can sense the joy returning to life.

This 4th of July, which most likely will not be celebrated with special concerts, firework displays or large gatherings of people, should focus on not the birth of the country, but its re-birth, celebrating the liberty from sheltering in place.  Happy Birthday to America’s re-opening.

And whenever businesses slowly re-open, be sure to embrace it.  And don’t ever take it for granted again.