Self indulgent tendencies Of Trump voters as demonstrated by the COVID-19 public health crisis.
One trend that has been consistently observable among obedient minions of Donald Trump, is the incessant whining about their perception that shelter in place orders and social distancing are infringing on their customary insatiable appetite for indulgence in the amusement sector of the economy.
But that is only one component of the discontent. It also extends to a sense of entitlement to threaten the health and well being of others as they consider only the impact of these requirements designed to arrest the growth of infections of COVID-19 on their own lifestyle prerogatives.
They whine about not being able to take excursions to gambling emporiums. “I can’t go to Las Vegas”, is one frequently heard complaint. On the other end of it, is an outcry that restrictions on assembly of groups larger than 10, is an “attack on their religious freedoms.”
One friend, on her FB timeline mentioned that she was blocked by at least two people, “because I share web links to COVID-19 and (they are) calling me a spreader of paranoia and other names. How can just posting the truth from reliable sources like John’s Hopkins University cause paranoia? Seems like they have the problem. Oh well.”
Beyond this, there is a facet of conspiracy theory being applied to the coronavirus pandemic. According to many of the same members of this malcontent cohort (typical Tea Partyism), the national, state, county and municipal directives to limit public activity to all but absolutely essential enterprises, are a sinister plot to strip Americans of their “Constitutional Rights”.
This collective sentiment is based on a notion that the risk of contagion is contrived and exaggerated and the executive orders are merely a ploy based on that premise.
They are indignant about constraints on their activities and some appear to be in hysteria mode about public authorities enforcing the constraints with arrests of certain individuals, most notably Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of “The River” church in Tampa Bay, Florida.
The explanations to the community from government officials, rings hollow with the element we’re describing.
“We would never impede someone’s ability to lean on their religious beliefs as a means of comfort, but practicing those beliefs has to be done safely,” the sheriff of Hillsborough County, Chad Chronister, said at a press conference Monday. “This reckless disregard for human life puts hundreds of people in his congregation at risk.”
All of this is as though, no one has died, no one is suffering with each breath, no one is in jeopardy of not having the availability of a ventilator and vital health care workers are struggling to even keep up with the burden of new cases.
Given the fact that much of this sentiment arises from a sense of not only alarmism, but a persecution complex, the hedonism displayed seems to confirm that the value of personal and collective sacrifice plays no role in their outlook.
This is even though in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus instructs his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself”. In Philippians (Chapter 2), the apostle Paul, exhorts the reader to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Exposing others to severe health risks is not loving one’s neighbor.
Despite that, experience has shown that you won’t be successful in turning these sorts of attitudes and inclinations around. Maybe anecdotally, but not generally.
Referring to the Trump cult syndrome, centrist conservative George Will, notably paraphrased Jonathan Swift and Fisher Ames’ versions of an earlier aphorism, “Men are not to be reasoned out of an opinion that they have not reasoned themselves into.”
It remains true with the extremists among us, and regrettably so.
by Richard Cameron
“The Martian,” a movie for our time
In a world where pandemic and end of the world films are now all the rage, we should remember that there is a story out there that offers a bit more hope. The 2015 sleeper hit, “The Martian.”
Based on the novel by Andy Weir, “The Martian” follows an astronaut, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), and a collaboration of scientists from various space agencies, JPL, NASA, and the Chinese at one point and Watney’s crew, in an effort to bring him home.
My heroes are artists, writers, activist, and scientists. The movers, shakers and problem solvers of our world today. To it seems natural that, in the middle of a global pandemic, that I would be attracted to a story about a bunch of eggheads working out a problem every bit as insurmountable as what we face today.
Much of the film hinges on the performance of Damon, who shines at just the right moments throughout. He is able to brilliantly capture the mood and emotions of the stranded Watney, allowing the audience to feel a bit of what he feels.
The tears from Watney when he learns that he isn’t alone and that others out there care about him nearly made me cry. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear that.
Damon also captures Watney’s unique sprinkling of scientific analysis, genius, and snark that made the novel memorable. While lecturing his invisible audience about the laws of thermodynamics, physics or botany, he tosses in my favorite understatement.
“I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.”
The film also captures the incredible talents of the supporting characters. From the bureaucratic Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and rebel Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean), to the quirky scientist’s Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – who directs and stars in another gem, Netflix’s “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” and Rich Purnell (Donald Glover).
There are a few things that allow this film, in particular, to stand out, especially in light of what our world is facing now. The first is the sheer will by Mark Watney to survive, despite the incredible odds against him. And the risks everyone in his circle is willing to take for him.
The other is the continuing battle by the sciences to go to bureaucrats and beg for money. At the beginning of the film, when both Kapoor and Sanders are convinced the mission is a failure and Watney is dead, Sanders expresses his desire to exploit this mission’s “success” in order to secure money for the next Mars mission.
It’s a timely, tragic reminder that, unless there’s a reason for the public to rally around a scientific mission or cause, their funding all too often goes the way of the arts. Cut to the bone to support more “worthy” causes, such as infrastructure, diplomacy, and even war.
Finally, there is the spirit of cooperation, of comradery among the scientists in the film for the sake of one man, is one of the most encouraging things I have seen in so many weeks.
This film is a testament of what is possible when we put aside our differences, our disagreements for just a moment, and work for the greater good of humanity and our world as a whole.
by Tiffany Elliott
Some thoughts from our Senior Contributing editor Tony Wyman about the misbegotten perspective about stimulus checks to individuals being some illegitimate aspect of “socialism”:
If you accept your check from the government, don’t ever complain about “socialism” again.
If you’ve opposed others in need who accept support from the government and you do the same now, simply because the virus has made life difficult for you, don’t fabricate some nonsensical excuse to justify why it is okay for you to take a handout and it isn’t for others.
Have the decency to accept that, just as you need the help now, others who live with poverty all the time also have a real need for help, as well. Those folks aren’t on assistance because they want to be or because they are too lazy to work. They need help because, like you right now, circumstances have put them there.
So, the next time someone asks why we spend billions on a wall or another aircraft carrier we don’t need, instead of spending money on social programs that break the cycle of poverty that have trapped millions of our fellow Americans, don’t call those people “socialists,” as if you aren’t one, too.
– Tony Wyman