The Shelter in Place Diaries: USA! USA! USA!

One of the quirks of our United States culture is our “don’t tell me what to do” attitude. And I get it. After all, our nation formed in the flames of an uprising, and we came away with a certain resistance to government authority, even when that government is our own. And this isn’t quite the same thing as lawlessness. It’s more like we say: “Yes, actions have consequences and I’m willing to accept those consequences, so get out of my damn face and stop telling me how to live.”

We take care of ourselves, you see? Government can get bent. Stay off my land. Don’t tell me how to think; what to believe; who to trust.

I grew up here, and I have a stubborn libertarian (left-bertarian?) streak. So I can’t get too huffy about the culture. It’s a part of me, too.

Besides, we Americans aren’t heartless. It’s just that our focus is centered on our families and our personal liberties, not the nation or world as a whole. But you can see the problem. There are times, such as when fighting a pandemic or climate change, when you want individuals to put collective needs first.

You might have seen that one doofy guy on the news who shrugged and said “If I get the Rona, I get the Rona.” While he later apologized for being a bad example, he struck me as emblematic of how we tend to do things here. That fatalistic, stubborn independence?

It’s classic Americana.

Give me liberty or give me death.

Locally, there’s a long line of partiers headed to the beach for the holiday weekend. And someone we love is bar hopping, literally courting death, two to three days per week. No words can sway him.

In my darker moments, I envision attending his funeral. And my heart sarcastically calls out: USA! USA! USA!

Give me liberty or give me death? In response, the Pandemic leans forward with a big grin full of rotting teeth. Why not both? Go out! Have some fun. You’ve been cooped up too long. You deserve this.

To all who hear me, you deserve something far better than a fun holiday weekend. You deserve a long and happy life. Tell the Pandemic to get bent. Stay close to home, and cheer our nation’s beginning from your backyard or living room.

Gatherings can wait. Truly. They can wait. Now let’s fire up the family barbecue and enjoy our nation’s birthday. Disney+ is showing Hamilton this weekend, and red white and blue M&Ms are both festive and delicious. We’re having hot dogs and potato salad too.

Happy Fourth!