I don't want to write this. I don't even want to think about it, but I'm consumed by the weight of American Selfishness. The feeling I've always had about Americans has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Listen, I am someone who decides on what is best for herself at all times ala Ayn Rand's philosophy. There are tiers to what is acceptable selfishness, though.
The basic rung of selfishness, the one I subscribe to, involves self-preservation. I need to eat, I need a break, I will take that promotion. I don't see much fault in that, especially when it involves a better or more easier means to provide for oneself or one's family. However, throughout the course of this pandemic, I have seen a different level of selfishness, and though it is disturbing, I don't see it as alien to American culture.
I have seen friends and family members blow off mask mandates, go to parties while someone's grandma was dying of COVID, travel across the country while millions suffered through unemployment or worse, skipping in vaccine lines (oooh, I am HOT about this today), or touting a ripped off version of the Pro-Choice motto, "My body, My choice."
First off -- let me debunk the appropriation of an otherwise extremely valid phrase. My Body My Choice in the form of the Pro-Choice movement holds up because it implies that a woman can make a decision for her own body, not only including the physical burden of bearing a child, but also the financial burden for supporting it throughout life, possibly without a partner. The GOP claims to be avidly Pro-Life but refuses to care for people of color, the socioeconomically challenged, the LGBTQ+ community, and I could go on and on, but let's hit the mutual pain point...veterans once they've finished their rounds of combat.
Let me hit you with this lengthy, albeit important quote:
“The unborn" are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don't resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don't ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don't bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It's almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe."
- Pastor Dave Barnhart, MDiv., PhD
So, what about the living? There is a double standard here.
The problem with the GOP usurping "My body, My choice," lies in this: by refusing to adhere to social health protocol because you want to have a martini indoors or go on Spring Break in Florida, you are endangering others. You're risking the health of locals, and also, god dammit, your fellow humans who work in the industry. Yes, those people who serve your food and drinks, oh-so-forgetable folks who are at times working month-to-month to send their kids to decent schools and put food on the tables -- yes! They exist! How astonishing! And people who forget that are so, so selfish.
Let's not forget the arts community: the painters, the dancers, the musicians. Oh goooodd I know how much you miss the arts! But few in power will discuss it because art is deemed "non-essential". Yeah, tell that to my depression, and tell it to the Kardashian family as well. No one is exempt from missing good, live music or dance or whatever you're into.
So as people mourn the death of their favorite five-star restaurant, I sit here, still scraping by to make ends meet, robbed of my dream job and staring at my master's degree diploma which has gathered quite a bit of dust in this past year. How quickly we dismiss our fellow humans' contributions to our own sanity.
Moving forward, I'm looking at you, line skippers. I'm in group B+ in Illinois. I have asthma and a few other underlying conditions. I've followed every rule about quarantining, testing, not traveling, etc. I've made no concessions. I'm struggling with my mental well being. And well, you, who needed to go to that party across state lines... As Phoebe Bridgers said in Kyoto, "I don't forgive you". I'm still struggling.
Well, this was dark, but don't forget. It's your body, but it isn't your choice if you want to see your neighbor thrive, whether it be physical, psychological, or financial, until we all get our shots. The economy is the people. Don't get it twisted.
I have much more to say on this, but don't have much padding for it.
Until tomorrow, stay well, stay safe, and stay kind.