First the small and then the big.
Small: deliveries from Grove by UPS
I just want UPS to deliver my package. Simple, right? It’s just toilet paper and cleaning supplies. No biggie, unless you’re in NYC and under self-isolation. And you have disabilities.
UPS has neither disability accommodations nor a comprehensive pandemic program in place. And they are the delivery option for most online purchases made these days.
The economy is on the verge of recession. The Fed dropped prime rates to zero, the stock market gave the economy a vote of no confidence. And now UPS, the primary delivery option for e-commerce, is not prepared for any of this. It’s a blindspot when every email in my inbox is some company telling me they’re working on novel solutions to the circumstances.
Want to watch an economy go into free fall? Watch customers abandon online retailers because the delivery mechanism isn’t working.
Now for big: self-isolation during an election year.
Self-isolation, we’re told, benefits the medical system so they can prioritize the gravely ill and lower overall infections/deaths. This is an example of communitarian values. Americans tend to be individualists. The whole Horario Alger, bootstrap, we all are born with equal chances for success kind of mentality. Which is a bit of a stretch considering Lewis and Clark couldn’t have made it to the west without the help of Sacagawea.
Communitarian values are more prized in Europe. Hive mind mentality. So good for others without personal incentives.
Both of these systems are broken at the moment. The myth of the individual in the U.S has lead to selfish, greedy people who act in their self-interests and are easily manipulated by anyone who tells them to look out for número uno.
Communitarian values in Europe have gone to shit as Brexit can attest to and as Europe’s response to refugee and pandemic has fueled latent racism and tribalism.
But there’s good to both sides. Without communitarianism, we wouldn’t have herd immunity through vaccinations.
Without individualism, we wouldn’t have American entrepreneurship that has fueled the digital age.
Here’s where the hairs on the back of my punk neck rise. We’re in a state of fear and reaction to something that could have been handled much better (see South Korea for obvious example). NYC has shut down all gatherings of 50 plus people in an election year. And the White House is saying groups of 10. Election primaries are being postponed in an election year. No, the election year. The one that is supposed to save us from going off the brink. And now we’re losing our First Amendment right to assemble. For the benefit of the herd.
I get the need. I get the medical issues. But whenever my government tells me I can’t exercise a right for my own good, my critical thinking pops up. People can be conditioned in times of crisis to give up rights they will never get back.
In the 1950’s, working women were asked to stay home and play mother so men could resume the jobs. And they did it. Communists who brought all the labor forces together to fuel the war efforts were hounded into obscurity.
After 9/11, everyone accepted the new normal of 24-hour shock news with running banners down at the bottom of the screen. We were told to be good patriots and go to the mall. By the president.
After Trump got elected, we got used to accepting bad and terrible news on a daily basis.
All of these were temporary measures that became the “new normal.”
And now we’re being asked not to assemble or even support the arts or the economy in a time when recession is all but a given and we are still under the thumb of Trump and his ilk.
What if this becomes the new normal?
What if we keep accepting limitations on freedom that are the cornerstone of our country because it’s for the sake of the good that was only needed because our government and private industry and the Republican Party created the pathway for all of this to happen. And the fear, the reaction, the hoarding, the self-isolation and the self- censorship become the new normal?
Yes, you say, but we still have telephones and social media and email! Yeah, at the sake of multi-national corporations that make money off of us and could shut the whole system down with one fail swoop or a million little cuts in bandwidth and reliability and straight up censorship. Then where would we be?
Anytime someone is asking you to forfeit a right voluntarily, you have to think critically. Because if we believe in the good in people, we also have to believe in its opposite. The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, knew a lot about tyranny. There was a reason they wanted us to be able to assemble.
Right now is the time to have lots of critical thought and to stay vigilant. Democratic values are being challenged. The economy is being challenged. And people are running around irrationally buying up all the toilet paper because they haven’t been given a comprehensive plan on how to manage this.
This could be just one of the great blunders of the world future generations study and wonder how we could have been so foolish. Or it could be part and parcel of the consolidation of power for the sake of power and to the detriment of the first modern democracy in the world.
Nothing is clear right know. But I know enough to know that people are slowly being conditioned. And critical thought right now is seen as cruel and unpatriotic. Which usually means it’s the most valuable thing to possess right now.
Being a subversive allows you to be nimble if needs come to that. It can also lead to you being scapegoated, dismisses as crazy, or disappeared forever. It doesn’t take a psychic to know that. It takes someone who understands the Longview of history.
No one likes a genius who speaks it like it is. They can’t handle the cognitive dissonance. They just want to hear happy things. Eat comfort food. Watch sappy movies. Drink. And try not to think so hard. That is what makes them vulnerable to tyranny.