There is a New Class in America: The Irresponsibles
I am still floored when I see the crowds partying in some warm place, acting as though there is no pandemic and no reason to be careful. They include the Karens, female and male, who claim their rights are violated by a piece of cloth over their faces, or that they somehow have privilege because of their race.
This wave of unbridled selfishness, which leads to the sickness and death of others, including their friends and family members, is simply incomprehensible, yet it is rampant in our country. This persecution mentality has no basis in reality, other than a childish belief that they are beyond any common sense rules.
A substantial part of this country is veering into chaos, driven by a culture of narcissism that exploded when we elected a maniac President, who is the ultimate representative of a spoiled childishness.
They hide behind politicians who are so far from the American mainstream that they don’t recognize its right to exist. It is in the interest of big money to encourage these divides, to stall any forward progress, and maintain the status quo as they rake the money in, sums of money they could not spend in a thousand years.
Since when do oligarchs care about the people?
I have nothing personal against wealth. At my age many of my friends have achieved wealth and they are still humans who care about society. But I have seen a gradual change in some who have separated themselves from anyone who is not in their economic class.
This separation creates fear, usually unfounded, of others not like themselves and of places, like cities, where all kinds of people mingle daily. One way to deal with that fear is to divide the country into those who share their beliefs, and those who don’t.
There is an arc in large societies where this divide appears, demonstrated by the acquisition of more and more material items and the inability for many to have that stuff. When I see a young person driving a $60000 car or truck, or ordering fifteen dollar cocktails in an expensive restaurant, I can’t help but wonder how much debt they are racking up. And the fear that debt brings with it.
This aspiration to live beyond our means is truly American. But it engenders a feeling that the world is unfair and everything is someone else’s fault. When we are unwilling to accept fault for anything, we become that irresponsible class, one of those people, rich, poor, or middle class, who deny that we have any civic responsibility for the welfare of others.
Society cannot sustain this level of selfishness
Societies have fallen because of this breakdown of civility, driven by fear. Entire civilizations have disappeared as their citizens gave up on responsibility. We have seen the beginnings of these breakdowns. January sixth, the refusal of many to take a perfectly safe vaccine or wear a mask, the terrible incidents of racism in our established authorities- all signs of a fundamental downward spiral.
I am struck by the lack of awareness shown by many who broke into the Capitol that they were, in fact, committing felonies. Even the deaths of five people didn’t seem to convince them that there was something wrong with their actions. All of this is evidenced by their self-incrimination on social media and via their own videos that place them at a crime scene.
When the rule of law is not a deterrent, society fails. We are at that point, led there by a ‘leader’ who has never felt that law or rules of civil society applied to him. So what can we do?
Rebuilding a national sense of pride
I grew up with the universal sense that American shared a pride in country, even while there were many divisions. Our politics need to look forward and find common ground. The new administration is acutely aware of this and is trying to build consensus for major growth plans.
But the habit of continual obstruction has gripped their rivals, even though a majority of Americans support these initiatives. They show no sign of changing. Biden needs to seriously consider killing the filibuster and pushing his plans forward without any bipartisanship. That’s the political challenge.
The personal challenge is simple. Face your fears and talk to others about their fears and hopes. When we do this we nearly always find common ground, and common ground is our shared experience as citizens in a community that is not always divided.
If we can’t bridge divides in our personal lives, we will disintegrate into isolation or mobs with no sense that they have been manipulated by those who profit from an unregulated economy and country. Great societies stay great when they work together across disagreements and find shared goals and desires. I sincerely hope we are not past the point of no return.