Saturday, July 4, 2020

Juvenile Nation

I have been trying to figure out what is happening in our nation these days. I feel like I am in a science fiction film in which people’s minds or bodies have been taken over by aliens. Facts are no longer considered facts. They are simply opinions which one can accept or reject, based on whether they serve one’s political or religious worldview.

Americans’ ignorance of their history is astounding. I am writing this on the Fourth of July. I bet that if you asked this year’s high school graduate, with the ink still wet on their freshly minted diploma, what Independence Day commemorates, most of them would not be able to tell you. Every survey confirms Americans’ ignorance of their history. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this brief video.

What should we expect when we remove history, civics, and geography from the school curriculum and substitute a watered-down hodgepodge called Social Studies? George Santayana’s observation is true: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is chilling in the light of Holocaust denial, which is so common today. And of course climate change is a hoax. So is evolution. Americans fall for the most outrageous propaganda and conspiracy theories.

Americans’ attitude toward science is just as bad, as evidenced throughout this coronavirus pandemic. If the assessments of the nation’s top infectious disease specialist does not fit the agenda of our political party, we choose party over science. We will find our own expert to support our views. Just like the tobacco companies did. Smoking is good for you, you know.

Our attitude is that no one can tell us what to do. Our personal wants and desires trump the well-being and rights of others. We will do what we want, when we want, and no one is going to tell us we can’t. Waa, waa. Tweet. Tweet. Let’s go to a crowded rally! No masks allowed! Masks are unpatriotic. So is kneeling … unless you are kneeling before God. The American Christian God of course.

It is no wonder that the infection rate, hospitalization rate, and death rate from COVID-19 is so much higher in the US than other industrialized nations. We have the infection rate of a third world country. We have the scientific knowledge in our country to stop the virus, but not the political or personal will to use it. We do not have the emotional or ethical maturity to fight this pandemic. For those reasons we deserve what happens to us.

Governors are saying that the recent surge in cases is fueled largely by young people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. I gawk in horror at the reports of young people holding COVID-19 parties designed to deliberately infect partygoers. What fun! Attenders contribute an entrance fee, and the one who is diagnosed with COVID first gets the door prize! If they are lucky maybe they may also get the last bed in the local ICU.

Middle-aged Americans and elders are not exempt from this plague of ignorance. The refusal to wear a mask because we have a “right” not to wear it is ignorance as well as selfish. There is no right not to wear masks. There is a right to life, but we have no right to endanger another’s life by our conduct. If you don’t believe that, try to convince a police officer who pulls you over that you have a right not to have a driver’s license or a right to drive drunk.

America has become a country of spoiled brats. “I have the right to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and no one can tell me I can’t!” Waa. Waa. Waa.  Call the wambulance. We are a nation of emotional juveniles and narcissists - self-absorbed and incapable of caring about anyone else or taking responsibility for our actions. If things don’t turn out right, we can always find someone to blame.

What embarrasses me the most is that some churches are voicing this attitude, saying that it is a matter of religious freedom to worship however we want, whenever we want, with as many people as we can fit in our buildings. Wearing masks is seen as lack of trust in the Lord, who will protect us from harm if we have faith. In other words, “We will do what we want because we are a church and we are special. And you can’t stop us. It says so right here. Na, na, na, na, naaaa!”

Churches that cite the first amendment as a license to open their churches without taking precautions are betraying their ignorance of religious liberty as well as abdicating their responsibility towards their people. Ever hear of “Love your neighbor as yourself?” If that is too radical for churches to practice, at least follow the maxim “First, do no harm.” I won’t even talk about racism in religion. I attended a Southern Baptist seminary and know too much about that.

As you can tell, I am frustrated. I have been scratching my head in wonder so much recently that all the hair is gone from the top of my head. (I am pretty sure I had a full head of hair when President Trump was inaugurated.) Don’t get me going on the presidential elections – 2016 or 2020. The way I see it, we got the president we deserve, one who reflects the emotional maturity, moral integrity and intellectual knowledge of the average American. I fear for the future of our country.

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