Amid all of the tragic stories plaguing the media currently, with cases spreading like wildfire and no one seeming to know what to do, I’ve had a lot of time to think and reflect on what this means for U.S.. What I’ve come up with is this, and I would like to provide warning. This isn’t an uplifting piece, although we all need that so much, but rather a thought provoking call to action. To realize our failed systems that are currently in place, and examining our role in a global view.
The United States has become a dominating player on the world front, and we—encompassing a nationwide, governmental stance—act invincible. Like this was destined, and can’t be taken away. In the U.S., there is an untouchable air around our actions; we boast about our economy and our achievements, ignoring the problems we cause elsewhere, and neglecting large, underserved communities across our nation. We act like we can’t be shaken from our prestigious tower, but what this virus is showing us is that we most certainly can.
The U.S. is not an invincible powerhouse. When this virus struck in China, rather than taking an introspective eye at our own resources, at how we would cope with a catastrophe as the one they faced plagued them, we just kept living our lives. And this mentality made everyone calm, for months as it spread. Reading stories and seeing videos of the chaos in China seemed like a them problem, and we didn’t start preparing until it devastatingly hit Italy, someone the U.S. has closer relations with.
Rather than examining how it spread in China, the government reassured us of the handful of cases wouldn’t turn into what it had there. Why? Because, the president thinks the United States is better than them, all the countries fighting the disease. This virus is pointing out the deep rooted flaws in our systems, and showing that we in fact are on the same playing field as everyone else.
The number of cases in the United States has surpassed anywhere else on the globe. With a population of 340 million, we do have the largest population, apart from China (1.4 billion people) and India (1.3 billion), which would make this seem predictable.
However, even with the large number of cases (over 119,000), our per capita testing is significantly lower than South Korea or Italy, meaning we potentially have more cases than it seems. Even more frightening is looking at how few tests are being done in states with the largest populations and cases, meaning there are far more people infected, who are continuing to spread it, without knowledge.
Experts believe we need to almost double the amount of tests that are being done to get an accurate count on the number of infected. But as we know, the shortage of test kits and equipment is nationwide.
As our economy collapses, our glass box shatters, we are forced to face the fact that we aren’t better than any other nation out there. That while our ‘great’ country significantly struggles and fails to provide the medical assistance and basic needs of Americans during a crisis, imagine the other less ‘great’ countries in the world.
Imagine how developing countries will further fall due to the crumbling of an already very fragile system, many fragile due to the United States or European involvement. If a nation like the United States is shaken by this, I can’t begin to imagine what we will be seeing in developing countries as numbers continue to rise, and they are forgotten about.
History continues to be made every day. And on a worldview perspective, things have been very peaceful in the U.S. and our global interest has declined. Geography classes, that provide a worldwide perspective on physical and human geography, are not being taught in the United States. Only 17 states require geography courses in middle school, and only 10 require it in high school—for more information on the lasting effects of this hole in the education system, click here. Because of this, where things are going on in the world or what events are taking place.
With this pandemic, we will be seeing changing borders; new super powerhouses rising up; major systems collapsing, and a shift in the world as we know it. So I urge you all to try and get to know what is going on in the world.
What are problems that are going to be enhanced by this virus? Do we still have children seeking asylum locked up at our borders? How many Americans will face bankruptcy from this, unable to pay medical bills? How can we help? Do we care about our economy more than we care about our people?
I’m forward looking, and not anywhere near as optimistic as our president. Yesterday, New York congressmen Max Rose stated that the virus doesn’t discriminate; that it wreaks havoc on blacks or whites, rich and poor, and should bring us all together to fight one common enemy.
Certainly, it has created a common enemy, which is the disease, but it is creating far more depleted communities and it does discriminate in who gets to live. Whether or not your state has the resources to provide for everyone in need will affect who lives. Whether or not you have medical insurance, or documentation papers affects how this will ravage lives.
So although we are all equally likely to get it, we are not equally likely to survive. And after this is all over, we need to work toward equity and more human oriented systems in place.
Feature image from Fast Company