The Divide Between Aware and Unaware
I just came back from a tour of four western states. Yes, it was a vacation, but driving over 900 miles opened my eyes to some things about this country. Besides the native Americans living in abject poverty on valueless deserts and plains, we saw the rich ski lodges of the Rocky Mountains and the challenge of military families forced to live in underserved small towns. We have a lot to cheer about in this country, including the purple mountain majesty and a thing called democracy. I saw the bumper stickers reminding me that “freedom is not free,” and wondered what that actually means. Democracy gives us a say but freedom doesn’t mean we can do any damn thing we want. We have a responsibility to not intrude on the freedom of others.
I read the “My body my choice” signs held high at the anti-mask rallies by the same women who will be screaming against liberal women holding the same sign at Pro Choice rallies. The Covid-19 global pandemic has taught a lot, and now we know that Covid-19 can kill children. If Johnny doesn’t wear a mask it places Suzy at risk. Sean Penn, the actor and pro second amendment guy, says not wearing a mask is the same as pointing a gun at another. Covid-19 has the potential to hurt, sicken or kill our students and we must deal with this reality.
I am starting to think that the division in America is not political but a chasm between “aware” and “unaware” people. It’s all too easy to put a person down without understanding their personal knowledge base. Consider this. I hold a hammer and ask the person standing next to me to put their hands on the table. They quickly pull back, thinking I want to hit their hands with the hammer and knowing how badly that would hurt. Over our lifetimes, we have gained knowledge of hammers and hot stoves and we automatically avoid them. Those people screaming “enough is enough” at school board meetings claiming that little Bobby shouldn’t have to wear a mask are asking for the hammer to come down on their hands. They are unaware of what Covid-19 can do because they haven’t taken the time to understand it.
While the Sarasota school board here in Florida was debating mandatory mask requirements for students, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law forbidding mask mandates in public places, schools and businesses. The rich irony of those who carry signs that say “We Don’t Co-Parent with the Government” is they don’t realize that the government is telling them what they CANNOT DO. It’s the exact same kind of powerful government overreach they are protesting. Why are these folks helping the government be more powerful and overbearing in their lives? Do they derive pleasure from the pain of the hammer?
The early figures from our school district here on the west coast of Florida are disturbing. In the first week of class, 166 staff members and 683 students tested positive for Covid-19. 69 staff members and 1,421 students were required to quarantine after contact with an infected person. Governor DeSantis forced the Florida Department of Health to slow the release of coronavirus data. What was he thinking? Oh, yeah, he wasn’t thinking. He even admitted during a press conference a week ago that a once- weekly release of Covid statistics was not in the public interest. I guess he did it to underscore his authority.
We’ve had a long history of the term “anti-American” activities. Donald Trump was quick to use the trope against anyone who disagreed with him or his policies. Any chance that the Donald could be a good president was dashed by his inability to see beyond his beliefs. He has a strange isolationist strategy. If you like him, he likes you and he gives, but if you are not a hundred percent with him then you are his enemy. Baby-Trump DeSantis has threatened to cut off education funding and the salaries of those who teach our children if they vote in mask mandates for their schools and students. He’s being anti-American by saying the state government should control local governments and school boards. Ron DeSantis is a vindictive son-of-a-bitch.
I heard lots of complainers on my trip. The conversations were anti-this or anti-that. Biden messed up Afghanistan, I don’t want my kids to wear a mask. One father demanded his kids be home schooled because the elementary school had a mask mandate. Another guy whined about bad roads and, in the same paragraph, said he was against the infrastructure bill because Biden was robbing the people. Being against something seems to be more popular than taking the time to be aware, to investigate and understand what is really going on. It’s so much more fun to be against something. Americans became more “anti” over the last four years because they were taught that being a complainer, a putdown artist and an outrageous personality wasn’t a disorder; it was a valuable attribute. Yes, it’s Donald Trump’s fault. Sorry to complain.
Motoring over stretches of barren land last week, it dawned on me that we Americans waste so much time on insipid conversations, unimportant social media rants, likes and dislikes that we no longer have awareness of what we are doing and what is happening all around us. We are melting our planet with emissions, burning our forests with raging fires, and creating strange weather pattens that will wash away our homelands. Did we want another whack of the hammer so badly that we elected a climate change denier?
We stood down and took foolish advice from a craven lunatic instead of fighting the pandemic. We should have shut things down and started wearing masks at the very beginning. Sadly, we had no one to lead us, no one to cheerlead us to victory. We simply had an unaware anti-American in the White House.
And those deeply loyal Republicans in power, who cling to a fantasy that things were oh so good with President 45, are just as much part of the problem. They, too, are anti-American. When Rand Paul claims that masks do nothing, I wonder what he would say if a doctor about to operate on him refused to scrub up and wear a mask. About 20% of us are anti-science, anti-mask and anti-vaccine. “I don’t trust anything from the government” may be an interesting bumper sticker, but we will tread on you if you stand in the way of our kids’ safety and health. You can be a drunken driver in your backyard, but as soon as you take your vehicle to the road you are on GOVERNMENT LAND. Follow the rules.
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