I have been carefully watching what is going on in our country, since the virus epidemic started. Governors that refused to shut down beaches because of the economic drain it would cause if they lost the Spring Breakers. The Spring Breakers that refused to stop partying and ignored physically distancing guidelines. People that seemed to believe that none of this applied to them, just because their state, for a moment didn’t have a lot of cases. States, that even when beseeched by the federal government to issue “stay at home” edicts, refused to do so. People refusing to stay home and still out shopping and socializing as if there was no risk at all.
Americans cannot help themselves – they eat until obesity takes their health. They shop and run up credit card debt until they can’t pay, and then file for debt relief. They refuse to buy health insurance, saying they cannot afford it, yet they are driving a new car. They say that they can’t afford to save for retirement, and they act like it is not their fault that they have no savings when they are not able to continue working. There are those that work just long enough until they qualify for social security disability, then work for cash and don’t report it as income.
We have become a nation lacking in self discipline. Now that we have a crisis, it is quite apparent that we can’t discipline ourselves even for our own good, and certainly not the good of others. The economy is temporarily broken and people are out of work, wondering how they will meet the bills, as if they have never heard of having an emergency account. Small businesses are going under, because they can’t open and are undercapitalized to survive. People have never learned to cook, so they are depending on delivery services and drive thru fast food to survive.
Generations before us had self discipline because there wasn’t any choice. There were no credit cards, so they had to wait to buy something until they could afford it. They saved their money, instead of frivolously spending it on things they didn’t really need. They learned to make do. They didn’t have to go to the gym, because they worked out keeping their lives going. Back in my grandparents day, they didn’t have social security disability, so if you got hurt doing what you used to do, you found something else to do so you could earn money. People prided themselves on self sufficiency, because to accept help was shameful. You did not want to be charity case.
We are no longer a nation of self disciplined individuals and the younger we are, the less self disciplined we are. We have grown up in a time of abundance. The adults in our lives have provided us with everything we wanted, as soon as we wanted it. We value our wants, over our needs. We value our personal needs over the needs of others. We value quantity over quality. We no longer care how we will be judged by others, because we are taught that the only opinion that matters is our own.
So we come to the virus, and we should be surprised by the attitudes of many that seem to believe this illness has nothing to do with us. If we are asked to stay home, we do so if it suits us, no matter the consequences. We may or may not physical distance ourselves, we may or not may not wear masks if we are asked. We will self-justify our behaviors because at the end of they day, no matter what we say, we believe that what we want is all that matters.
Some of us hope that this virus will serve as a wake up call for our self serving attitudes. We hope that it will make us wake up to personal responsibility and stop thinking that someone else will take care of the problem, with only minor inconvenience to us. Make us realize that throwing money at a problem isn’t the only possible solution. We hope these things, but I don’t believe it will happen. Once the crisis is over, we will continue to lack self discipline. We are utterly incapable of showing the same strength of character that previous generations have shown in times of crisis. And that should be the wake up call we all heed and regain our self discipline.
Until next time, Elsie