The nation has now surpassed a haunting 500,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, a number that would have seemed unfathomable less than a year ago.
Too many Americans have lost grandparents, brothers, aunts and friends. As the pandemic wears on, with the first real glimmers of light beginning to emerge from the tunnel into normal life, we have lost a sense of respect for life in the process.
This unfortunate phenomenon is true, not only in the actual death seen all around us but the death of our minds and the very fabrics of our social society. Last summer, most states began to make a trade, reopen and allow for more death for the farce of an open economy and our social lives back.
This was a bad deal from the start. The promise of reopening and of “normalcy” was hollow and instead filled with masks, isolation, virtual reality and pointless educational zoom calls, all for the chance to eat indoors and go to the bar.
Instead of reopening school for our children, we reopened bars and clubs. Instead of daycares, we chose NFL stadiums and political rallies. There is nothing wrong with wanting to reopen bars, stadiums and events safely, but the order of operations in which these took place was not backed up by science or importance; however, by influence and the almighty dollar.
Kindergartners went to school on computers while the former president held a rally – largely free of physical distancing and masks – of over 15,000 supporters.
We chose to get the worst of both options. Instead of locking down in a serious way that would truly have mitigated the spread of the virus, we reopened prematurely and received very little of the benefit. Instead, our mental health continued to fall apart when restrictions were re-added or never lifted, as cases have spiked out of control. Now, 500,000 of us have paid the price for it.
Each one of those 500,000 deaths is a funeral, with a mourning family someone with dreams, aspirations, and memories. The number doesn’t convey the pain felt in every single one of these deaths.
If these 500,000 deaths were at the hands of our enemies in the form of a major terrorist attack, our nation would be mourning for months, and war would undoubtedly have been declared almost immediately.
Tens of thousands of men and women would likely volunteer themselves for military service, promising never to allow something like that to ever happen again. We created billboards thanking nurses and essential workers during the pandemic and then did precisely what they pleaded with us not to do.
When the death is from our own hands, we refuse to take any action in response and refuse to feel any sort of guilt. It will always be easier for others to sacrifice on your behalf and avoiding the personal inconvenience of staying home.
A German Public Service Announcement asked Germans to be heroic like their previous generations, who lived through the Great Depression and other tremendous hardships, including war – while the challenge today was to stay home and watch TV. Clearly, this was too much to ask for in the United States.
This behavior is indicative of a more significant cultural trend. We refuse to take pain or harm from others and are quick to establish someone else as the guilty party, but it is viewed as inevitable and uncontrollable when we harm ourselves.
While we look forward to a day where life looks familiar again, I hope we will promise never to make this trade again.