There were many bad things about the pandemic. There has been a lot of human suffering. It has not been all bad though. There are positives to be taken away from this trial the global human community has been experiencing. The United States is being tested as a country and a people. It may be we will look back on this time as when we learned or RELEARNED these valuable lessons and took away these positives to conquer an uncertain future.
The Indisputable Positives of this Pandemic
We started prioritizing people. For the first time, capitalism ground to a halt. When making money collided with the health of our fellow citizens, we ruthless capitalists pulled up. We allowed capitalism to be crippled by lockdown because it was BETTER for the people. While Americans may run from the word “socialism”, they are apparently quite socialist in their hearts. Both the Republican Trump administration and the Democratic Biden administration have opened the monetary spigots and literally sprayed trillions of dollars to keep our people healthy and economy primed for rebound. We have been reminded that we need each other to protect our shared interests. It has been like that since time immemorial.
You cannot shoot a virus. At first there was some confusion on the matter. There were actual military exercises going on allegedly to honor the “essential” workers. Eventually, I think weary healthcare workers began to push back on the foolishness. They started to point out these military displays were not free and the money could be put to better use if we REALLY wanted to help them. This recognition of who the Blue Angels really are and how we can really support them is a big positive. Pouring billions upon trillions into high-tech military weaponry may not be the best way to spend our precious dollars. Few things can eclipse this positive for us and the globe.
We can no longer ignore our great divide. As we tried to work together to protect ourselves, there was unexpected push back from some people. They were uncooperative and belligerent in their refusal to wear a piece of cloth to reduce their viral clouds. Americans were faced with the Rise of the Facemask Libertarians. Many Americans just began to avoid these people. They were signaling they did not care about other people and they were prioritizing politics over common sense. However, you cannot ignore people prioritizing politics over all else any longer. If government is ineffective, then an effective alternative will be found to fill the void. Preferably the search for an alternative is not down the path of war as it often has been historically. Nonetheless, after the insurrection in DC, it became clear the inauguration was likely going to be disrupted. Though the FBI mobilized and the tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook were squeezing the insurrectionists, the Parler app had already been downloaded by A LOT of people. There were rumblings of an even greater insurrection derailing the peaceful transfer of power being plotted in the virtual halls of Parler. Americans then learned billionaires who are making literally billions on the status quo will take action to protect the status quo. Amazon stepped in and shutdown Parler, effectively saving the Republic. Now we are wondering if Jeff Bezos is going to start a Rollerball League?
Finally, we are recognizing we are #2. In this list of pandemic positives, this is the one which is most “hopeful” and less concrete. Americans need to recognize we have lost our advantage. We are in fact most likely #2 on the global stage now. China’s GDP grew in 2020! They did not have a vaccine, but they did cooperate with their fellow citizens. Because they took care of each other, Chinese citizens endured far fewer lockdowns and their economy actually grew in 2020. This could be the biggest positive of the pandemic. Americans stop clinging to this ridiculous idea that American exceptionalism will carry the day in the 21st century. We need to start looking realistically at where we are and where we are going. China is publishing more scientific papers than the United States too. The Chinese now have a quantum communications network as well. When I wrote that China was ascendant, the pandemic had not quite hit. It was even being downplayed, but COVID-19 ended up on everyone’s radar screens shortly after. Now, the pandemic has accelerated Chinese growth and stymied American growth making the aforementioned essay seem to be a bit of an understatement of where we are really at.
The truth of American Exceptionalism is only evident when we are under pressure. Suddenly, we can pull together. We can put aside all of our stupid political fights and recognize we are Americans first. There can be no greater positive from this pandemic than if Americans embrace the idea: