Millions celebrate the USA today. And, yes, I should, I suppose, be on the boat, or the wakeboard, or the paddleboard, or the kayak. Like everyone else, here in flawless Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where it’s a dry ninety degrees, the water as transparent as glass.
Millions celebrate the USA today.
I sit here instead. For now at least. On a patio chair, enviously listening to the sounds of boats and laughing, watching everyone frolic in the warm sun.
Have you ever taken a step back, ask what we celebrate on July 4th? I mean, of course, we celebrate the “birth of a nation.” But precisely what is the nation?
What is the USA?
Because when I was a kid, on Independence Day, everyone seemed to be on the same page. Like other national holidays like Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day or New Year’s Day — or even on a birthday or wedding anniversary — never debate about what you were celebrating.
Millions celebrate the USA today. And they ain’t celebrating the same thing.
In fact, tens of millions seem to be celebrating very different countries.
On the political left, a celebration of diversity. Not just celebration, pride in diversity. Giddiness. Glee. Jump up and down and scream hullaballoo.
To the question, What is the USA? the far left, its core — American means not just diversity, but a celebration of it.
What is the USA to the far right? Most certainly equal Independence Day celebration. Parties and trucks with flags — lots of flags. Lots said about patriotism. Songs and memes about being proud to be American. Most certainly pride in “America.” But not so much pride in diversity.
Perhaps even fear of that diversity.
To those on the far right, I’m afraid America means something very different than it does to those on the far left.
What is the USA? This is not a political question; today, it’s a question with no easy answer.
And I don’t want to be a downer to my friends on social media.
But I can’t not speak out.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: COVID-19 affects all of us. But, COVID-19 hurts children most. The fallout amongst the health experts I speak to weekly in Washington DC is unknown. I wake up daily to news articles on spikes in calls to rape hotlines, child deaths, you name it.
It will take years to recover.
Never in the history of U.S social services have children been kept from mandated reports. Never in the history of social services have children been locked-up with their abusers, with no end in sight.
According to Girls Not Brides: “We know that girls and women – particularly amongst the poorest and socially marginalised groups – will likely be most affected by the pandemic.”
It’s always the weakest and most vulnerable that get hit hardest. The people Jesus stood for, advocated for, died for.
COVID-19 hurts children most
Seeing countless people protest because they can’t go to the beach or party at their favorite bar or who believe guilds of tens of thousands of our finest medical doctors and researchers (in the (WHO, CDC, NIH) are conspiring…we live in a bizarre world and ignorance is our biggest killer.
I am stuck in DC maybe with Coronavirus. I am not afraid of Coronavirus — not one bit.
Funny thing. I met yesterday here at The Department of Health and Human Services. We met regarding how the organization I run should respond given our extensive national and international work, with children.
While I was sitting in the Hubert Humphrey building, taking notes, asking questions, developing a communication plan, I started to sniffle. A few minutes later, a dry cough. A few hours later, in my hotel room, my body temperature seemed a bit off.
Slept nine hours without waking-up once — rare for me. Had bad dreams, too. One was about our pet German Shepherd. We actually don’t own a German Shepherd, we own a Maltese/poodle mix. I used to raise German Shepherds. Anyway, people today want to call mutts fancy names these days, like Maltipoo. I don’t go for it; Luna is a mutt. Plus, maltypooh just kind of sounds off.
Back to the dream. The German Shepherd ran away. We searched and searched. We found him at a park. Some big bald hairy guy wearing overalls was holding her above his head, running toward me, then body slammed our dog to the ground and killed her.
So there was that.
I was to fly home at 5:14 this afternoon. I spoke to Gina for a while. I read and re-read CDC’s website. Please, if you are going to read anything about the Coronavirus, read this, even though some swear by wacky conspiracies from emails or random websites.
I decided to stay in DC for (at least) another day. Airlines are working with potential carriers of the virus, so the flight change was just fifty bucks.
In my room now. I have a beautiful view this trip. The cherry blossoms in DC captivate me. I took a photo of them on Sunday, during a run, and posted on Instagram. I took this photo with my Leica just now.
Outside, it’s in the mid-sixties. I have the patio door open. There’s a gentle breeze.
I’ve been away from home for 11 days.
It used to be that when I was stuck in a city I really couldn’t get any work done. You probably remember. Now with Slack and Zoom and email, there’s just about anything you can get done from a hotel room.
Bree attends Columbia Medical School. They just shut the school down, and she might come home for a few weeks, or longer.
Avery (my stepdaughter) is doing a semester in London, via Pepperdine University. All those are being sent home immediately.
If one decides to look at history, and the way most of the world lives — today — this anxiety of Coronavirus is indicative not of a health crisis. The anxiety is a symptom of a society addicted to data and certainty, and focused on pathology.
I’m not in any way saying we shouldn’t take precautions. We should read what the CDC says, and WHO, daily. Again, I’m staying in DC, as a precaution. I am instructing our staff and tens of thousands of our volunteers, around the world, to educate themselves.
But let’s get serious — hundreds of people in lines a mile long buying a year’s worth of toilet paper at Costo? I am not afraid of Coronavirus — not one bit.
There are so many kinds of anxiety. Or fear. One, of course, is death. Another is of being embarrassed, publicly. I wrote about that horror here.
I will close with a quote from a man who changed my life over ten years ago. I’m serious, he did. His name is Edwin Friedman. He was a Jewish rabbi who died in 1996. He was a counselor to corporations, presidents, families.
Consider his words. Let me say it again, in light of the Coronavirus crisis, consider Friedman’s words. And stay informed.
I will remain stuck in DC maybe with Coronavirus. And we will all be fine.
“Chronic anxiety is systemic; it is deeper and more embracing than community nervousness. Rather than something that resides within the psyche of each one, it is something that can envelop, if not actually connect, people. It is a regressive emotional process that is quite different from the more familiar, acute anxiety we experience over specific concerns. Its expression is not dependent on time or events, even though specific happenings could seem to trigger it, and it has a way of reinforcing its own momentum. Chronic anxiety might be compared to the volatile atmosphere of a room filled with gas fumes, where any sparking incident could set off a conflagration and where people would then blame the person who struck the match rather trying to disperse the fumes. The issues over which chronically anxious systems become concerned, therefore, are more likely to be the focus of their anxiety rather than its cause.”
I woke today thinking about Plato — his three appetites of the soul.: pleasure, reputation, and knowledge.
Who can be sure whether the drive for pleasure exceeds that drive for status — reputation?
But knowledge, especially today, comes in last. And society pays a high price.
Postscript. Perhaps there is no greater topic to man than that of appetites. The billions of dollars spent on advertising, to create needs that don’t really exist. The “top university” facade. Substance abuse. Brands. All creating the deepest forms of anxiety and depression due to envy. I’m not claiming to have an answer, other than to say that once upon a time, only the privileged could receive an education. Only those in the minority could be learned. Around 50 years ago, higher education in America became an instrumental value, versus intrinsic. Today learning (the pursuit of knowledge) is a means to an end: money, pleasure, status. Envy hurts society.