The Coronavirus is America’s largest Rorschach test. If you were a compliant person who liked to be told what to do before the virus landed, now you’re a REALLY compliant person. If you were a defiant person who hated to be told what to do before the virus hit, now you’re a REALLY defiant person. If you distrusted doctors before corona, now you downright hate them. If you put doctors on pedestals before we COVID-19’d, now their pedestal practically touches the sky. I’ve never seen anything like this. And neither have you.
There are many ways to view this moment in time as a test for us mortals. We’re being tested physically, mentally, emotionally, communally, nationally, globally, medically, technologically and in our ability not to go crazy during one of those ungodly-stupid Zoom meetings. I’ve come to a few conclusions:
1. Most people are decent and sane. Most of us realize the commonsense of social distancing and obsessively washing our hands during this thing. Even if the science is 100% wrong about this virus—and, honestly, who knows at this point?—taking some light precautions for the sake of others is the decent thing to do. Most of us realize this. Those who don’t are a small but vocal group of already angry folks. If that small but vocal group of already angry folks weren’t so damn well-armed, it would just be funny.
2. We aren’t nearly as “ruggedly independent” as we think we are. We still think we’re pioneers. But pioneers don’t care what the governor says. They just do their thing. We’re not cowboys anymore. Cowboys don’t use Twitter. We’re a lot more sheepish than we used to think we were. Our little cowboy is not long for this world, but maybe we should try and rescue him before it’s too late.
I’m not saying that obeying the law is inherently a bad thing. The law against urinating on clergy in public is a decent prohibition. But truly ruggedly independent people don’t give a damn about the law. They just whip it out and piss on whichever clergyman they see first.
3. Crises bring the inside out. Like I said, Rorschach test. The inkblot is whatever you want it to be. I’ve discovered that a lot of my friends want to be scared, that far too many of them enjoy lecturing others about how right they are and how wrong others are, that the fine art of social shaming is running rampant across the amber waves of grain.
If death is possibly right around the corner, you’re going to let your verbal guard down a little. Why do you think we’re fascinated by famous people’s last words?
The good news here is that, from what I’ve seen, the vast majority of Americans are decent on the inside. That has been coming out, especially given the greed and manipulation coming from Washington, D.C. Elsewhere goodness abounds.
4. We could reform society right now. This may be in the backs of a lot of our minds right now. In the midst of this horrible situation, we’ve been given a rare opportunity. We’re probably going to blow it, but hope springs eternal.
Even if this pandemic is all a giant Angel Soft toilet paper conspiracy, or a Purell Dystopia, we’re managing it pretty well. I’m, for the most part, proud of you, America. This has always been a great nation. It never stopped being great. We’re just on a momentary greatness pause. We were great. We are great—and we will continue to be great.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.