ChrisWeigant.com

Americans Rediscover Shared Sacrifice

[ Posted Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 17:16 UTC ]

Americans are newly discovering their ability for shared sacrifice in the name of the good of all. Now, this isn't universal -- disasters tend to bring out both the best and the worst in us, it seems -- but it is pretty close to universal in the areas hardest hit. Life has changed, in major ways. Daily routines have been obliterated. We all have to protect ourselves and in doing so protect each other as well. This has meant radical changes in the way we interact with each other which will likely be with us for months, if not years. What I find interesting is that we're shouldering the burdens -- so far -- about as well as can be expected.

I'm not talking about the politicians and the other people in charge of the response -- for once, this isn't a political column. I'm talking instead about average people and how they've been reacting and changing as a result of the pandemic. Because America just hasn't seen this sort of widespread change in attitude for a very long time -- perhaps since World War II.

We have had to make sacrifices and change some behaviors as a result of changing events over the past few decades, but these changes haven't been nearly as far-reaching. After 9/11 we all changed our outlook and adapted to the "if you see something, say something" mindset, but that didn't really require much in the way of sacrificing day-to-day activities. America has also been changing due to the repeated instances of mass shootings -- I certainly never had to go through a "live shooter drill" when I was a schoolchild. But again, these things tend to kind of recede into the past after they're gone from the headlines.

America changed its sexual behaviors en masse during the AIDS crisis, which (like the current crisis) was fighting a medical foe that absolutely demanded changes in personal behavior. But it didn't reach into every aspect of daily life in quite the same way.

The oil shortages of the 1970s come close to the universal shift in behavior we're experiencing now, at least for one aspect of life. Gasoline was rationed, and long lines at the pumps were something that had to be dealt with. There were even days and odd days and everyone had to deal with the new rules. But again, gasoline is just one aspect of life, although a very important one (transportation is involved in many other aspects of life, to put this another way).

America's soldiers and sailors have sacrificed in each of our wars, but you have to go back to Vietnam for when this sacrifice was not merely asked but demanded. The all-volunteer army has changed the dynamics of war in this country, and even after 9/11 we still have never had to resort to a draft. That wasn't true in Vietnam -- the government told you to go fight, and you either had to or you were going to go to jail (or you moved to Canada). That is a level of sacrifice that was a lot more universal and a lot more life-changing (at times, it was even life-ending). The draft was used in the Korean War as well, as any episode of M*A*S*H plainly shows.

But back in World War II, the entire country was on a war footing which involved daily sacrifices by just about everyone. Food was rationed. Cars weren't being made, because the factories were making warplanes and tanks instead. Gasoline was severely rationed. Beaches were treated as possible invasion sites, and were patrolled and militarily hardened. Everyday people were told things like "loose lips sink ships" to get them to alter their pre-war behavior. We had an enemy to fight, nothing was too good for our boys in uniform, and the civilian population just had to take a back seat to the war's needs, in hundreds of ways both great and small.

There is always an aspect of herd mentality to shared sacrifice, of course. Public shaming of incorrect behavior becomes a strong incentive for people who might not be willing to change over to the new way of life. It's peer pressure on a gigantic scale, in fact. This is one reason why I reach back to World War II for an adequate comparison for the mental shift the American people are going through now. No other crisis we've faced since then has led to such an overwhelming and abrupt shift in the way we deal with each other in daily interactions.

While so far things have been going fairly well, fatigue is almost certain to set in at some point. Anyone can put up with just about anything for a few weeks, but when that stretches into months it's going to be a lot harder to maintain. Already some are developing a kind of cabin fever from staying at home with their families -- or, alternatively, all by themselves. This is only going to get worse as more time passes without a clear end of the road in sight.

What's going to be more frustrating is if we're eventually given a sort of "all clear" signal, and life begins to return to some semblance of normality -- and then the coronavirus comes back again. We'll have been given a taste of where we all want to be, safe and secure enough to reopen what has been closed and get back to where we were previously -- and then it'll be snatched away, as we all have to pivot once again to staying at home and limiting our interactions with each other.

But perhaps this is being too pessimistic. The American people do have a reserve of shared sacrifice we haven't dipped into in a long time, which could see us through this. Multiple generations are learning for the first time just what universal shared sacrifice truly means when our nation is facing an uncertain future and we've all got to cooperate in order to fight off the unseen enemy. We've been through worse times and survived, so perhaps we'll weather this storm better than expected too. I certainly hope so. One thing about the coronavirus pandemic that seems certain is that everyone alive today will eventually wind up telling their grandchildren about what life was like during the time of the disease. We haven't faced such a serious medical threat in over 100 years, and hopefully we won't face another one quite so bad for many decades to come. Hopefully we'll all get to the point where our memories of the current day-to-day life will become nostalgic stories to bore our future generations with. Stories of panic-buying toilet paper probably won't even be believed.

In the meantime, we've all got to stick together. Or, more literally, stand at least six feet apart at all times. The more everyone sacrifices for the good of all right now, the better off we'll all be in a month's time. That's a pretty powerful motivator, you've got to admit.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

49 Comments on “Americans Rediscover Shared Sacrifice”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If we focus on all of the opportunities that these stay at home orders allow, then it's probably a good bet that we'll find all sorts of things to do that will keep the frustration levels at a bare minimum if there is any frustration at all!

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, here's another great piece from the South China Morning Post ... everything you need to know about how we got to where we are with this novel coronavirus, including some things you'd really rather not know.

    https://multimedia.scmp.com/infographics/news/china/article/3047038/wuhan-virus/index.html

  3. [3] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Proposed slogan for the duration of the crisis - '6 Ft apart or 6 Ft under!'

  4. [4] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I'll believe that Americans have learned something when they start to realize that the people living through our wars without end are dealing with real hardship and maybe we should stop that. We're on a stupid cruise ship and our voyage won't last 20 years, but a month? We're not going to be better off in a month, but at least Big Orange is #1 on Facebook.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    CW-
    Before I read the column I must comment on being labeled by you as a troll.

    Based on what?

    As for language, when one of the real trolls behaves like an offensive word them I use that offensive word.

    I do comment with my opinion on the articles and comments.

    And my opinion is that the problems we are facing right now are caused by big money corrupting our political process.

    Ignoring me doesn't work.

    Of course not. Why would it?

    I comment with my opinion explaining why what you write about in your articles is either incorrect or the same principle you apply in the article should be applied to One Demand.

    And usually how One Demand can be part of the solution to what the article is about because big money is the major obstacle to implementing available affordable solutions to almost every other issue.

    And when this is ignored I remain persistent in demanding an answer. Just like you have lauded others for doing to people that will not give them an answer.

    Here's some advice I often get here:

    Ignoring me hasn't worked. Try something different.

    Try addressing my legitimate comments.

    I have not complained about Kick or Listen and their trolling me.

    Are they on double secret probation or are they above reproach for some unknown reason?

    If my language offends then why are you not chastising Kick and Listen for provoking me instead of offering real discussion?

    So no it is not clear.

    You will have to explain the inconsistencies in your comment, the conclusion and what it is based on that I am a troll and why Kick and Listen are seemingly not trolls.

    Did you ever think that a person might get tired of being ignored by you and harassed by trolls?

    I at least take on the trolls and address their bullshit.

    If you think I'm a troll then prove it by addressing what you have been ignoring with a real back and forth discussion.

    Something you could have done a long time ago and from time to time as things change which would not have us where we are today.

    The last time you even attempted to discuss anything related to One Demand was when- early 2017? And a total of two times since 2015.

    Things have changed.

    It's time you did too.

  6. [6] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "That's a pretty powerful motivator."

    Yes. These are motivating times.

    At this point citizens could be motivated to do all sorts of things that seemed to many people to be impossible to expect to happen.

    Hint, hint. Wink, wink. Nod nod.

  7. [7] 
    John M wrote:

    I would like to know why the USA is allowing unemployment to rise so high so fast when this doesn't have to be the case.

    Other nations like Denmark are taking a different tack.

    The government there has basically taken over the job of paying employers to keep employees on the payroll for as long as possible.

    Why can't the USA do the same thing?

    You have industry X. The government gives industry X 50 billion dollars to pay employee payroll. That money can't be used for anything else, not stock buybacks, not CEO salary, etc. but ONLY for employee paychecks.

    Instead of being laid off, the employee keeps getting their regular paycheck from the company, through a government loan or grant, whether they are at work or at home simply doing nothing, for the duration of the crisis.

    When the crisis is over, the employee goes right back to doing the same job they were doing before, instead of going through the process of having to find a new job all over again. In the meantime, they have had money for food, rent, etc.

    Is America not doing this simply because of some short-sighted aversion to supposedly having the government pay someone to sit home and do nothing? Do we really think most people would be comfortable just staying home forever not doing anything? Sure some percentage might, but MOST people want or need to work, if for nothing else than to feel productive, useful, have a sense of self worth, or not go stir crazy.

    Perhaps Andrew Yang's idea of a universal basic income isn't looking like such a bad idea after all, rather than "traditional welfare?"

    Maybe it's time to try thinking outside the box?

  8. [8] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "Maybe it's time to try thinking outside the box?"

    It would seem you are commenting in the wrong place for that. :D

    Let's hope that the current situation motivates people whose main concern at the moment is STAYING outside the box gets people to actually start thinking that way.

  9. [9] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    At the supermarket a couple was discussing facemasks and the man said if you don't have a mask you could just use a pair of underwear.

    I said I tried that but I didn't have any clean underwear so I couldn't breathe.

    The man then said I could turn them inside out.

    I already do that before I put them in the laundry. :D

    Obviously people already were staying six feet away from me so nothing has changed in that regard for me. :D

  10. [10] 
    TheStig wrote:

    EM-2

    Thanks for the excellent link. We in the US can learn a lot from the Chinese. I think the "IKEA style" isolation hospitals were brilliant. That said, the biggest thing going for the Chinese people seems to be the much lower death rate associated with their epidemic - 2% of infected patients versus about 35% for US patients. I don't believe their medical system explains this. Previous exposure to COVART viruses does. See the Seafood and "bushmeat" sections of the article. This an old story in the field of epidemiology... smallpox, measles, polio etc. "Natural Immunization."

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    EM-2

    Thanks for that excellent link. We in the US can learn a lot from the Chinese. I think the "IKEA style" isolation hospitals were brilliant. That said, the biggest thing going for the Chinese people seems to be the much lower death rate associated with their epidemic - 2% of infected patients versus about 35% for US patients. I don't believe their medical system explains this. Previous exposure to COVART viruses does. See the Seafood and "bushmeat" sections of the article. This an old story in the field of epidemiology... smallpox, measles, polio etc. "Natural Immunization."

  12. [12] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    For the Texas LT. Governor:

    "Grandma got corona virus this year
    'cause money's more important than disease
    You may say that she just did her duty
    But as for me and grampa we just grieve"
    -Grandma got run over by a reindeer dark parody

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: What's going to be more frustrating is if we're eventually given a sort of "all clear" signal, and life begins to return to some semblance of normality -- and then the coronavirus comes back again.

    Excellent column, CW. Here you have touched on what I personally find to be the most frustrating part of this entire ordeal: The "not knowing" regarding all manner of things. Being ill and not knowing whether you have the disease because testing is denied. Getting over an unbelievably fatiguing illness that knocks you flat and wondering if you've had it but not knowing. Distancing yourself while not knowing whether you have antibodies to (somewhat) protect you from reinfection wherein you could be on the front lines versus sitting on the sidelines.

    But perhaps this is being too pessimistic.

    There is no such thing as too much pessimism when a pandemic is sweeping across our planet at the exact same time China and America are both being lead by pathological lying narcissists who believed they could ignore a deadly virus and/or con it out of existence, emotionally needy leaders -- who don't believe in science -- making decisions at the highest levels of government that affect not just their two countries but people in a multitude of countries all over the world.

    The American people do have a reserve of shared sacrifice we haven't dipped into in a long time, which could see us through this.

    Amen to that brother, and it's "We the People" who are going to have to get America through this because the so-called "pro-life" Party and their ilk have proven time and time again that their interest in "life" basically ends at birth; after that, you're pretty much on your own and left to your own devices. Their oaths to "protect the general welfare" don't seem to interest them, and science is something they're generally busy knee-jerk denying.

    At a time when facts are under assault at the highest levels of government on multiple continents, science is indeed our way out of this. Yesterday the FDA approved a new test for coronavirus antibodies, the first of its kind that's been approved for use in the United States. The test can be completed in about 15 minutes and identifies protective antibodies in a finger prick of blood and whether or not a person has ever been exposed to the virus and may have built some immunity.

    Also, five critically ill patients with COVID-19 disease who were relying on ventilators were given antibody-rich plasma from five other patients who had already recovered from COVID-19 disease. Three of them were discharged from the hospital, and two of them were in stable condition at the time of the report:

    Treatment of 5 Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 With Convalescent Plasma

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763983?resultClick=1

    There's the beginning of a way out, and science has delivered it. Wonder how many hoops we'll have to jump through to obtain this test? We'll see.

  14. [14] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    Re your "Protect the general welfare" (thira para)

    Without bothering to check, I seem to recall the constitutional phrase you refer to is actually '"Promote" the general welfare', and the founder's definition of "welfare" did NOT align with the modern usage of the term which actually you lefties equate to 'charity', or perhaps something akin to'benevolent generosity'.

  15. [15] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Oops, make that read 'thirD para'

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    John,

    I would like to know why the USA is allowing unemployment to rise so high so fast when this doesn't have to be the case. Other nations like Denmark are taking a different tack.

    Of course, unemployment is going to rise - everything is shut down, except for essential services!

    In Canada, as in your country and other countries, millions of people, myself included, have applied for (un)employment insurance benefits. Of course, that is the case.

    I don't understand why people, especially in the media, are falling off their chairs reporting this unprecedented rise in filings.

    Yes, our economies are shut down. But, we are not in an economic crisis. We are in a health crisis, for God's sake!

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    TS,

    I would suggest that the best resource you should focus on, these days, would be the daily briefings of the World Health Organization.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think the point Don was trying to make is a good one.

    Unless you are sick, in which case you should be at home, or you are caring for someone who is sick, then frequent hand washing and respiratory etiquette and keeping your 2m distance and staying at home as much as possible is far more effective in the battle against the virus than wearing a mask and that these behaviors are what will get us through this health crisis.

    By the way, has anyone heard about president Trump asking 3M NOT to send US-made respirators to Canada or Latin America? Thankfully, 3M is mounting a very strong pushback on that.

    Thank-you 3M!

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @crs,
    welfare the federal program is not the same as welfare the general state of being. welfare in the broadest sense equates with physical and mental health, and has for over 300 years.
    JL

  20. [20] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Stucki-

    you lefties

    I had not realized you were such a strong Trump supporter. I mean, if you keep lumping the entire left in to one convenient group to make assumptions about, the flip side would mean the right is a single congruous group and that would make you a Trump supporter. Or a hypocrite, take your pick...

  21. [21] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Bashi-
    I am left handed and that alone makes more left than anyone here. Not hard to do because most here are center to center-right.

    I am left-center-right. A conserberal or capitocialist.

  22. [22] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Bashi [20]

    My response to [13] was appropriate to her to whom it was addressed. If I offended you by pluralizing the term "Lefty", causing you to conclude that I was thereby including you in a collective in which you do not actually belong, you have my apology.

    poet [19]

    You nailed it kid. I wish the lefties (NOT including Bashi) were smart enough to grasp that verity.

  23. [23] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Stucki- [22]

    So, you are a Trump supporter...

    Just can't help yourself can you?

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:

    Stucki
    14

    Re your "Protect the general welfare" (thira para)

    Without bothering to check, I seem to recall the constitutional phrase you refer to is actually '"Promote" the general welfare',

    Without bothering to check, of course you are 100% correct. It's "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..." etc.

    Good catch, Stucki.

    and the founder's definition of "welfare" did NOT align with the modern usage of the term which actually you lefties equate to 'charity', or perhaps something akin to'benevolent generosity'.

    Well, I'm still not a lefty, and I can assure you for a fact that there is no magic number of times that all manner of people claiming I'm a lefty is going to magically turn me into one. I also don't believe the vast majority of lefties equate the term "welfare" in the preamble to "charity" or "generosity" either.

    I think those phrases "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..." etc. contained in the preamble explaining why "the People" were establishing the Constitution for themselves and future generations have the fairly self-explanatory meaning of their concern for the law and order, peace, health, and safety of the citizenry of the United States and their descendants ("our posterity").

    It's pretty basic stuff akin to the "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" the people believed government was instituted in order to protect... paraphrasing from the Declaration of Independence, of course.

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    John,

    My first response to you above is a prime example of why I need to stop replying until I read the whole thing. Why do I do that? Don't answer that!

    Anyway, I thought your country WAS doing all of that, including wage subsidies.

    Here in Canada, starting April 6, all Canadians, can apply for the CERB, a Canadian coronavirus emergency benefit. It will be $500/week for 16 weeks. Anyone who has filed for employment insurance benefits after March 15, will automatically be enrolled in this benefit - I'm guessing right now that we will receive EI or the CERB, whichever is more.

    And, Canada is providing a 75% wage subsidy to Canadian business - small to large- to keep their employees on the payroll through this crisis. It's still unclear how that will work.

    But, again, I wish reporters would stop fretting about the high unemployment rate because this is a good sign that non-essential business has shut down as part of the effort the stop this virus.

    It doesn't make any sense to me that people are talking about this crisis in terms of an economic downturn and being shocked by what are really inevitable numbers when what is really happening is not an "economic downturn" in the classic sense but a serious health crisis.

  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki
    22

    My response to [13] was appropriate to her to whom it was addressed.

    Her to whom it was addressed disagrees with you, but then "you righties" equate Donald Trump with "benevolent generosity." Just kidding.

    If I offended you by pluralizing the term "Lefty", causing you to conclude that I was thereby including you in a collective in which you do not actually belong, you have my apology.

    Now do me. :)

  27. [27] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    OK, characterize your political ideology as you wish, but you keep getting ensnared in the old "Walks like . . ., swims like a . . ., quacks like a . . ., etc. Ergo, no apology for you!

  28. [28] 
    Kick wrote:

    :P

  29. [29] 
    TheStig wrote:

    EM-17

    The WHO webpage is in my bookmarks. It's a good site, and I check it out regularly. Frankly, every reputable COVID tracking site I've encountered is giving out pretty much the same information from the same sources. I happen to prefer the Johns Hopkins webpage because presents log graphs of mortality and recovery- which is what you want if you are interested in exponential growth rates. I like double checking what the prognosis is: and I have the tools to do it. It's not rocket science. Just population biology. A staff and supercomputer would be nice, but I work with what I've got. It helps me pass the time.

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    TS and everyone,

    The WHO really is a good site. It is infinitely reassuring to know that they are working hard to coordinate the worldwide COVID-19 response.

    During the Q&A portion of the WHO daily press briefing today, Dr. Michael Ryan gave an excellent overview of what needs to be put in place BEFORE there is any thought put into relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures.

    Before mitigation measures can be relaxed and lifted, he warned, we need to develop transition strategies that will put us ahead of and in control of the virus. Only when we are in control can we protect lives and livelihoods.

    Ryan said further, "In order to reach such a point of disease control there needs to be put in place a comprehensive public health architecture along with a massive investment into the capacity to do surveillance, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, good information systems and highly educated, engaged and empowered communities across the world who understand what to do and where to go when they get sick and who have access to medical professionals and to testing, isolation, and quarantine...healthcare systems need to be strengthened in order to take care of the very sick while developing new therapies and a vaccine."

    Doctor Ryan's bottom line:"We need to work hard to put in place the comprehensive architecture of public health and healthcare systems if we're going to unlock safely from the societal and population measures that are affecting and impacting peoples social and economic futures."

    I hope all governments are listening.

  31. [31] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    If people are having a hard time getting onboard with the whole collective needs thing, perhaps this will help persuade them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvmj8tMUEzo

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Amen!

  33. [33] 
    Kick wrote:

    GT
    31

    "Trentin Quarantino"

    Heh.

  34. [34] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz-
    Weren't you offended by Sameul L. Fucking Jackson's language? :D

  35. [35] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    But I was with him right up until the end.

    It's not time to go to sleep-

    It's time to wake the Samuel L. Fucking Jackson up!

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm offended by your language, Don.

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Keep it up and soon you'll be gone.

  38. [38] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    All I did was post what he said his name is.

    So why are you offended by his language when I post it and saying amen to him saying it?

    Perhaps you need Dr. Phil Harmonic to read you a book named Context and Consistency. :D

  39. [39] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "Well I heard some people talking just the other day
    and they said you're gonna put me on the shelf
    well I've got some news for you
    And you'll soon find out it's true
    And then you'll have to eat your lunch all by yourself

    Me I'm already gone
    and I'm feeling strong
    I will sing this victory song
    'cause I'm already gone"
    -Eagles

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, that happens to be my favourite Eagles song, Don.

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Perhaps you need Dr. Phil Harmonic to read you a book named Context and Consistency. :D

    Now, that, is the height of irony.

  42. [42] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Not ironic at all.

    I consistently use the same language as SLFJ when it is called for and in proper context.

    This is irony:

    My favorite Eagles song is "Fly eagles Fly". :D

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don,

    You have been fairly warned by the owner of this blog - a blog in which you participate at the pleasure of the owner of this blog - to refrain from using bad language in the comments sections of this blog because you don't seem to understand what and where and when and in what context colourful language should be used in the comments sections of this blog.

    I am done with you on this issue.

  44. [44] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz-
    I think I understand now.

    You were playing Operation as a child and you accidentally removed your own funny bone instead of the one on the game board. :D

  45. [45] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's all your fault, Don.

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, this one's for you!

    https://www.elyrics.net/read/p/prism-lyrics/the-visitor-lyrics.html

    Hehehehehehehehehehehe

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Actually, that one might be for Chris! :)

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Ha! Ha!

  49. [49] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    New FTP column is (finally) up...

    -CW

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