Sit down America, we need to talk.
You’ve been strong for so long, trying desperately to hide any potential weakness, but this is a new day and that masculine sentiment of “only the strong survive” and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” just doesn’t work for us anymore.
Sure, that aggressive, dominant attitude of independence got us to where we are now, but we need to talk about whether that attitude is really in our best interest after today. You see, right now we’re in the middle of a really tough time.
You know those few things you remember from history class; the big events that stood out in the middle of boredom and trying desperately to look cool to the other kids who were also trying to look cool but simultaneously pretending that they weren’t trying to look cool? Come on, you remember.
The events with gripping names like “the black death” and “the Great Depression”? Well this is one of those times. Who knows what name future generations will give it, but they will definitely label it something equally as gripping, all-the-while wondering what it must have been like to live through such a terrifying moment. This is one of those gripping historical moments, and while I don’t know how this will turn out, what I do know is that tomorrow will look much different than yesterday.
If I am honest and reflective about what it is like to be in the middle of one of these moments, it’s pretty terrifying. But there’s something else. There is hope.
As a species we can be pretty short sighted. A few of us are pretty smart, but for some reason we don’t like to listen to those smart people. Maybe it’s because we don’t like to admit that we’re not as smart, and that probably goes back to that old way of not wanting to show weakness.
Regardless, those smart people have been telling us some really important things for quite some time, but we didn’t really want to listen. I hope now we will listen to them and stop pretending that we know better than everyone else. For some reason we like to think we have all the answers, and in some contexts that is fine, but in this situation it is just not going to work.
We have to admit that up to this point we have not been very good at thinking about other people because we have been too busy thinking about ourselves. Too many times we forced our employees to come to work sick, or we as employees came to work sick because to admit that we were sick felt like we were admitting some kind of weakness. We thought that this was in the best interest of everyone, but now we have to admit that we were wrong.
We thought that not washing our hands was not a big deal. We thought that wearing a mask was not an option for us because we were still trying to look cool. We thought that we knew better than the smart people who told us vaccines were important to our survival. We thought that not preparing for a crisis like this (even though all the really smart people told us it was coming) was the smarter thing to do. Admit it America, we have not been good at listening to the smarter people.
That brings me to today. Right now we can change. We are a family, and as families sometimes do, lately we haven’t really liked each other so much. Some of us really like our egos, and we want to cut off the family members we don’t agree with because they challenge our egos.
In this specific situation, we are going to have to let our egos go. In families, sometimes traumatic events happen that force the family to come together or to split apart. We can use this trauma to come together as a family, or turn against each other even more.
Every one of us has to choose whether we want to help each other or to just keep feeding our egos. But just remember that when the future looks back at those who prioritized their ego, they are seldom remembered in a positive way.
Timothy McArthur is a clinical social worker living in Grand Junction.