By David Futrelle
We like to think we can defeat almost any national trauma by remembering to “Keep Calm and Carry On,” as the popular poster declares.
It’s no accident that the poster, originally produced (if not widely deployed) in pre-war Britain in 1939 had a second and much bigger life in the US in the wake of 9/11, when we were routinely exhorted to keep going to restaurants and bars and theaters lest our social cowardice prove that “the terrorists have won.” (And there was some logic to this argument: the point of terrorism is to terrorize, so by resisting our fears and “carrying on” as normally as we could we lessened the impact of the attacks.)
But we now live in a world where this comforting fantasy no longer applies, where the health of our older and immunocompromised citizens depends on us changing our habitual behavior radically. Social Distancing is hard both practically and psychologically, especially in the US, where it challenges Americans raised on an ideology of rugged individualism to adapt a lifestyle that seems decidedly unheroic – and, for those who are young and healthy, to do it for the sake of others rather than for themselves.
So it’s not surprising that there are still people out there who still think the bravest response to the coronavirus is to refuse to change at all. Think of those who filled the bars and restaurants this past weekend – in Chicago there were long lines of St Patrick’s Day revelers outside the bars in Wrigleyville. Think of Devin Nunes, tut-tutting those too “scared” to go out and suggesting that visiting the local pub was the best thing people could do for our economy.
“I’m not afraid to go out and do what I want,” wrote a Twitterer called Lucky Tony.
In my world, it is … a necessity to go out and have a good time at my local bar and not be stuck at home cause of some ‘virus’ that scares you.
Now that bars and restaurants in many locales have been forced to close their doors to customers by decree – in part because of the terrible decisions people like Tony made over the last weekend – there are some calling for some sort of “resistance” to the closures. “It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM,” tweeted the cowboy-hatted former sherriff and MAGA ideologue David A Clarke Jr.
First sports then schools and finally commercial businesses. Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out.
Or stay home and get delivery until the crisis passes. Is that really too much to bear?
Going out won’t help us defeat this enemy; it will enable the virus to do more damage. Hitting the bars isn’t an act of courage; it’s an act of selfishness that puts more vulnerable others at risk. Keeping calm is well and good, but carrying on as normal, well, that’s just what the virus wants us to do.
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