Americans Are Learning Two Things Right Now — Hopefully
Perhaps Americans’ work ethic is too strong — and our self-importance isn’t helping.
For a country that’s shut down, there was more traffic than expected today. This is America, my home, where some don’t use much of their vacation time, and others don’t get any days off at all. Maybe not even sick days. Lots of us work through lunch.
After all, we “live to work”, we don’t “work to live”.
Much of the world is not like America. Though mindsets may be shifting via Millenials and Gen Z, demographics dictate that we simply don’t like sitting still, and we hate feeling unproductive. People here ‘come out’ of retirement all the time — not even out of financial necessity (until recently). It took some people I know several days of ‘sheltering in place’ to finally breathe and relax at home. Of course, the next day we need to get out of the house and do something useful, if possible. For those who rarely get time off, this is the only vacation they will likely get — although uncertainty doesn’t feel like much of a vacation.
In traffic today, wondering where everyone was going since businesses are largely supposed to be closed, I think I realized something:
Most of us in America would rather take our chances of possibly dying for sake of getting back to work. A lot of us, I think, would say that’s a fair tradeoff.
It’s not fair, of course, because no matter our ‘rugged individuality’ or our ‘work ethic’, this is not about us right now. It’s about the people around us; and the people they, in turn, could spread the virus to. This “flu” as many call it, may well only be like a flu to you, but it could, unfortunately, be a death sentence to those at risk.
The precautions are also about getting this Pandemic under control for sake of the rest of the world.
I get that you’re not worried about your health — you go about your day and all sorts of germs you don’t see come home with you just the same. Your kids run up to give you a hug when you arrive, then they go play with the neighborhood kids, who go home to their families. You give your elderly mother a hug or a kiss before bed. You were going to go to the nursing home tomorrow to see your father-in-law, but it’s closed because of these ‘overblown’ fears.
This viewpoint is exactly the reason the nursing home is closed, unfortunately. Because it’s not about you right now.
There are, unsurprisingly, ramifications for shutting down the largest economy on the planet. When businesses are closed, we can’t work, nothing is produced, nor any money spent. Money is the oil in the engine of the American economy.
It’s hard for any of us to take a backseat right now. But as the economy crashes in front of us — and it is crashing — you may find that even if you are seemingly immune to this virus, you are likely not immune from the economic disruption ahead.
So we should take this downtime, and maybe in addition to self-awareness, we need to start paying attention to understand why one little virus, COVID-19, could have possibly been the cause. But that, my fellow Americans, is another topic.
Stay safe, and stay tuned.