Americans Are On Our Own, and We Know It

We keep on going, because we have to.

Jessica Wildfire

Jessica Wildfire / Medium Daily Digest

Media – Yesterday I came across a heart-breaking tweet from a nurse who described admitting a 5-year-old who’d “coded” for an hour before her parents finally brought her to the hospital. The nurse bewailed the parents’ ignorance and dropped a couple of sailor words while pleading with people to take the pandemic seriously and stop with the Christmas parties.

The conservative, conspiracy-barbed backlash against her was so severe that she had to delete the tweet.

They were outraged at her bad language.

In case you don’t know, “coded” means the five-year-old was in serious or critical condition. Read the rest of the thread, and you’d see the family knew their child was sick for days. Nobody wanted to leave their precious holiday gathering to take her to the ER.

As a parent, this horrifies me — the idea that someone would put their selfish need for baked ham and eggnog ahead of their own flesh and blood. That said, it doesn’t surprise me anymore. Millions of Americans are sacrificing their families in the name of freedom and tradition. The rest of us sit back and watch with bewildered awe at their reckless judgement. We tell ourselves we don’t know what they’re thinking.

Let’s be honest, we know. It just makes absolutely no sense. It never will. We’ve given up trying to reason with them.

We’re leaving them alone.

We Live in Multiple Americas.

There’s not really “an American” response to this pandemic. There never was. There’s several, and they overlap.

First, there’s the astonishing resilience of some Americans to carry on with their lives and try their best to be decent human beings to each other. We’re the ones who’ve been social-distancing and masking. We’ve given up a lot, without much complaining.

Next there’s the front line and essential workers who have no choice but to deal with all the ugliness out there. If it weren’t for them, everything would be even worse than it is now.

Then there’s the jaw-dropping ignorance and selfishness of the rest, who choose to spend their time whining about masks and promoting conspiracy theories. They go out to restaurants. They go shopping. They go to motorcycle festivals and rallies. They celebrate every holiday like nothing has changed. They act like nothing’s happening, because they only see what’s in front of them. Sometimes they don’t even see that.

Finally, there’s the silent and suffering. They’ve lost their jobs, or they live in daily fear of it. They’re going hungry. Their mental health is falling apart. When they speak up, nobody hears them.

We’re not one America anymore.

We’re divided.

The Anti-Maskers Have Won.

Nobody’s going to challenge some Karen or dude-bro walking around Target without a mask. The reason is simple.

These people are unhinged.

They’re dangerous. They’re loud and aggressive. They don’t care about their own health or safety, so imagine what they think about ours. There’s also a small chance they have a concealed weapon.

The less time these people expel potentially virus-laden air in our presence, the better. That was before we found out about the new strain of Covid that spreads almost twice as fast. So now we’re especially wary of getting into arguments with the unmasked. The smartest thing to do is leave them alone. Store clerks shouldn’t have to risk their own lives to protect our shopping experience. There’s no sense in arresting and jailing anti-maskers either, because they’ll just wind up in cells where they can spread even more virus and get all of our police officers sick.

We’re done arguing with nut jobs. We’re avoiding stores and public places whenever possible. We’ve stocked up on nanofiber masks comparable to N95s, at least in theory. It’s the best we can do. Our strategy is to let the crazies have what they want, and stay out of their way.

It’s the only sane strategy anymore.

Our Politicians Are a Complete Joke.

No doubt you’ve heard Mitch McConnell blocked a bipartisan effort to raise stimulus pay from the pathetic $600 that even our president called “a disgrace.” We’re not surprised. Many of us abandoned faith in our leaders months ago, if not years earlier.

At this point, our politicians have been clear:

We’re on our own.

We’re bracing for whatever chaos happens between now and January 20, and we still don’t know if things will get better after that.

We know any chance of getting things done in Congress now rests with two run-off Senate races in Georgia, and we expect another brutal month of recounts and allegations of voter fraud before that contest is over. In short, it’ll be more of the same. We expect more fights at protests. We expect more bombs and unrest. Above all, we expect more ignorance and death. Our politicians have done absolutely nothing for us this year. If anything, both parties have continued fueling outrage.

There Won’t be Any More Peaceful Protests.

We always think we’re going to take to the streets and rage against the latest injustice. We’ve been doing it for years. We know it’s important to let our leaders know where we stand.

You know what?

I think they get it. The ones in charge just don’t care right now, and no amount of protesting will change that.

Most of us have full plates at the moment. We have no savings, and we can’t afford to take time off work to wave a sign around. We have families to take care of. We’re tired. Plus, there’s a new super-Covid.

Also, it’s cold.

The ones who “protest” in the coming months will be angry and armed, and looking for a fight. The rest of us are done for now.

Doctors and Nurses Have Had It.

That tweet about the five-year-old says everything. That’s not just an isolated incident. It’s happening everywhere.

Our healthcare workers are burning out.

They’re tired of being called heroes. They want to be treated like humans with needs and emotions.

You can count on this pandemic having a long-term impact on our healthcare system. Doctors and nurses are leaving the profession. According to some reports, more than half of our healthcare workers are rethinking their careers. They’ll be dealing with post-traumatic stress for the rest of their lives. You think it takes a long time in the ER now. Just wait.

We could’ve avoided this, but it’s a little late now.

Teachers Have Had It.

Most colleges and schools didn’t prepare like they should’ve over the summer. They dragged their heels acknowledging the airborne nature of the virus. They hemmed and hawed over online education.

Administrators treated teachers like they always do, an expendable labor force that doubles as a teen daycare.

Teachers suffered.

Now like nurses and doctors, many of them are planning to quit at the end of this school year. So you can also count on a diminished education system in the future. It’ll be another one of those looming problems our politicians don’t address until it becomes a crisis.

Even then, all they’ll do is sit around and argue.

We know who benefits from this, and it’s the private and charter school enterprise. They’ll use the post-pandemic landscape as an opportunity to expand further and gobble up tax money in the form of school vouchers. They’ll drain more students and resources from public schools, and leave them hollow shells full of at-risk students they don’t have the capacity to help. As always, teachers will take the blame.

Parents Have Had It.

Having kids puts you at a tremendous disadvantage in the pandemic economy. We’re constantly juggling the demands of children while trying to run our jobs and whatever side hustles we’ve got.

We’re ushering them across their virtual school schedules, oftentimes with resistance. It’s an incredible strain.

It eats up our time, and our bandwidth.

We’re running on a half tank all the time. The experts say this will continue for another year. That’s right, another twelve months. Quarantine parenthood was fun to complain about at first. Now it’s contributing to our larger mental health crisis. It’s fueling divorce and abuse. Rates of depression and anxiety are going through the roof.

It’s ironic that the self-proclaimed patriots who keep talking about family values and traditions don’t care what their reckless behavior does to anyone else’s family. It’s not on their radar.

They’re fine letting other families suffer.

We’re Hanging On, but It’s Rough.

You might read all of this and wonder what’s the point. Why focus on such negativity? Well, someone has to bring it up.

We’re all thinking about this. We might as well put it into clear terms. That way, it’s manageable to deal with on some level. Even the most optimistic person would tell you that action starts by clearly defining your problems, and keeping them in front of you.

It’s not like truth tellers spend all day curled up in a ball on the floor. We’re getting on with our lives the best we can. We’re doing our jobs and taking care of our families. We’re doing our self-care. We’re working on our problems. We’re throwing in some exercise here and there.

It’s just bad out there.

We can’t go anywhere. We can’t plan anything. We know it’s going to be like this for the next year. That’s what the experts all predict, and the last year hasn’t given us any reason to doubt them. This is where America stands right now. Lying about it won’t do anyone any good.

Being honest might.

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