This post took me a long time to write. It never felt as powerful as it needed to be, and with so many people talking and writing about the same topic, I felt that it really needed to stand out. I admit I felt extremely frustrated, both by the topic itself and the real-world affects I was feeling from it, and with my own writing as well.
But we must remember, nothing about this year has been easy, for anyone. I shouldn’t have to write about this topic, and I shouldn’t have to be struggling so much with the motivation to do anything but watch bad reality television.
I’m trying to cut myself some slack, and I implore you all to cut yourself some, too. We can try again next year.
At the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama commented on empathy in nearly the exact words I was going to use to start this post:
“Empathy: that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes; the recognition that someone else’s experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment … It is not a hard concept to grasp.”
I have been thinking about empathy a lot, too, Michelle. It has become the epidemic behind the pandemic; a total lack of ability to feel for others, to see where they are coming from, to understand their struggles, and to feel them as your own.
It is scary to think that there are people that lack such a basic human trait. Michelle is right, it is really not a hard concept to grasp, yet somehow some people just… can’t (or won’t, maybe).
I know many of you may have seen the shopping cart litmus test post that has been circulating the internet in connection with the social responsibility of wearing a mask. If you haven’t, I’ll give a summary: When we leave a store with a shopping cart, it is our social duty to return it to one of the conveniently placed racks or back to the store. We do this not only for the safety of other people and their cars but for the workers who must retrieve them. It is a relatively easy thing to do, correct? And most people do it. But for some reason, you always see those carts parked in the middle of parking spots. It is not necessarily illegal to not return the cart, it is just something you do to maintain social order so that we don’t descend into complete and utter chaos. I don’t know about you but I’d rather not die in a horrific shopping cart collision and end up in a sitcom called The Good Place.
The kind of person who doesn’t return the shopping cart is someone who cannot think outside of themselves. They either think they are special (“well I’m in a rush”) or they think that they are job creators (“well it is their job”).
This same kind of person is someone who doesn’t wear a mask or have any social responsibility concerning Coronavirus. They lack the ability to think outside their own world. Their excuses are more or less the same— they’re special (have you seen those fake “medical exception” badges?) or it’s not their job.
You know how babies have no object permanence? Meaning if something isn’t in their vision, it doesn’t exist. That’s the problem with Coronavirus— because these people can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. They don’t know someone who has gotten it or has died from it, so it must be a hoax used to make us all paranoid. And with asymptomatic people spreading it, it is quite literally invisible, so they double down on denying science and the media.
I just don’t know how to tell you how to care about other people. This is a team effort guys, just like everything else in this country. Collectivism is how we get through things like Hurricane Katrina and the Notre Dame Cathedral burning down. People pool their resources and they help each other. It is why we have GoFundMe’s for cancer treatment (better idea, Universal Healthcare!). It’s even why we pay taxes for things like Social Security (people my age might never see it, but I wouldn’t want some 90-year-old to not be able to pay for groceries).
It is each and every individual’s responsibility to bring their shopping cart back, pay their taxes, and wear a fucking mask.
Also, exciting news, I’ll be going on another writing retreat in October! Which means lots of blog posts and hopefully I’ll be able to finish up some stories!