If you travel internationally or talk to people who’ve lived abroad, you’ll learn of a few key characteristics that separate the culture of the United States from that of other nations. Kids around the world grow up bilingual or even multi-lingual, putting them at an advantage over American kids, most of whom are only fluent in English and do not grow up understanding the value of speaking other languages. Also, Americans are known to have a more individualistic attitude—a basic tenet of capitalism—and in many ways, that “You do you, I’ll do me” mindset has propelled us forward as a powerful leader over the past few hundred years.
However, it may soon be our downfall. Especially when a pandemic requires that we join together, care about one other, and give up some of our civil liberties temporarily for the greater good. Our country is young in comparison to other modernized nations, and as is often the case with lack of maturity, we can be cocky and think we are better, smarter, and stronger than everyone else, when really, we have a lot to learn. The U.S. is like the teenagers of the world. We are full of energy, but we don’t want to listen to our wiser elders, who have a thing or two to teach us if we’d only listen.
Because other countries—you may have heard—don’t have the horrific COVID numbers we do. They aren’t the epicenter, leading the charge in COVID-19 devastation.
We have the highest number of cases in the world. We do not have any semblance of containment. We we are watching—in real time—our economy crash and burn. Why are other countries more successful in combating this nightmare?
Because they don’t have our stupid, selfish, “you do you, and I’ll do me” behavior. That’s why.
Because we refused to be even remotely inconvenienced. Because we are spoiled and are used to having all of our wants and needs met immediately. Because we feel it’s our “right” to have house parties that become super-spreaders and believe that such idiotic choices are no one else’s business and everyone who doesn’t like it can STFU.
But here’s the thing, Bryttneigh. It is our fucking business because your party will spread COVID to 10-20 people people. And those 10-20 people will then take COVID home and infect their parents and siblings. And those parents and siblings will then infect their coworkers. And maybe those coworkers are my husband or my parents. And maybe their kids go to school with my kids. And now you’ve exposed them all.
Which makes your complete disregard my business.
And no, being rich and famous does not make you immune from COVID-19 or from being an asshole who spreads it. If you’re a regular college kid throwing a keg party in an old, dilapidated apartment or you’re a millionaire hosting 100 people at a swanky hotel bash, when you pack a large group of people together and no one is social distancing and no one is wearing masks, your behavior is reprehensible, and yes, it’s everyone’s business.
Does it suck to have to cancel your daughter’s 16th birthday party that you’ve been planning for a year? Yes. We are sad for her, and you, but kids all over the world have canceled their birthday parties (mine included). Couples have canceled weddings. Dream vacations have been postponed. Every person has had to sacrifice for the greater good—because this is a public health issue and impacts all of us.
Yes, we’re looking at you, Teresa Giudice and every other rich celeb who thinks they’re somehow immune or above the law. And yes, we’re looking at you, college kids throwing frat parties, and you, families still holding weddings in the midst of this pandemic.
Your behavior, when it becomes a deadly super-spreader as so many of these gatherings do, does not fit within the “I’m doing me” mindset. For example, none of the eight people who died as a result of the Maine wedding that spread COVID across the country even attended the wedding. That means, if you still host a birthday bash for your kid, you can potentially spread this virus to my entire household because you can’t bear to say no to your teenager who has her heart set on a giant glittery birthday cake and and a DJ playing Cardi B all night. That means someone’s loved ones could die because you can’t say “Sorry, sweetie, we are living throughout a pandemic. Your party will have to wait a bit longer.”
We get it. It sucks to disappoint our kids. But it’s also crucial that we raise conscientious citizens who actually care about other people. Who understand exactly what it means to live through a pandemic. Who know that the only way we’ll ever beat this, or even catch up to other countries around the world, is if we do just that. If we actually give even a teeny tiny fuck about someone other than the person we see in the mirror.
If we, for once, drop our toxic, entitled attitudes and think about our neighbors and community members and citizens around the country.
Our government leaders––not to be confused with our current President–– are scrambling to contain this mess and get our country back on its feet, but we can never take a step forward because of the irresponsibility of people having 4th of July parties, birthday parties, and baby showers. Those same people will probably try to host Thanksgiving with Grandma and Uncle Joe even though they are high-risk.
“When there are hundreds of people crammed into a house, where the air-conditioning system is simply blowing the air around, and where people are not wearing masks, you have also invited coronavirus to your party,” NJ Gov. Phil Murphy said after a giant party that included over 700 (that’s right—seven hundred) people was held at a New Jersey mansion this summer.
Other incidents in New Jersey that attributed to outbreaks in recent months included a Middletown house party that infected 50 teens, a Cape May Country graduation party that infected 46 people between the ages of 16 and 23, and a Long Beach Island party that infected 35 lifeguards.
And outbreaks like this are happening everywhere—nationwide—because of large group gatherings held by and attended by Americans who aren’t concerned about the impact their choices make on others.
And now that summer has ended, these events will be moving indoors, if they haven’t already.
Which means more cases and less control over this virus as it moves from state to state, city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood.
We have got to change our mindset, folks. We have got to look at other countries—countries where everyone wears masks. Where everyone understands their role and their responsibility to the greater society. Where the “let’s work together” attitude is more prominent than the “I only care about myself” one. Because if your neighbor Louise next door does care about her community, and does her part by social distancing and wearing a mask and staying home as much as possible, but you don’t, guess what? All of Louise’s efforts—all the holidays she canceled and all the times she chose to not see her family and friends—all of her sacrifices may very well be for naught. Because your selfishness could still spread COVID-19 throughout your community. And Louise’s elderly mom or sister with asthma might still get it anyway, even though she tried her best to protect them, and they might die.
That’s why your assholery is Louise’s business. And it’s mine too.
So don’t be an asshole. Dig deep and try to actually give a shit about others. Your parties, gatherings, and events are not that important. Not important enough to risk the lives of people you supposedly care about. Realize that the selfishness of Americans is killing us. Cancel your party, even if you’re super disappointed about it. And do your part to fight this pandemic.