In an opinion piece written for Rolling Stone magazine by Anthropologist and author of a few award-winning books, Wade Davis talks about how the novel coronavirus has basically managed to bring America down. Technology, it seems, has been both a blessing and a curse during this time, with its ability to keep the entire world informed about everything going on while managing to instill fear in most during these unprecedented times.
With the onslaught of this unforgiving virus known to the world as Covid-19, Davis explains how this microscopic parasite is not only infiltrating our physical beings, but it’s attacking the cultural foundations of our lives as well. While the human race is scrambling to literally stay alive, considering over 100,000 Americans died within four months since the virus began, pharmaceuticals from hundreds of nations are attempting to find an effective vaccine. And even then, many people wonder if it will be safe enough for the entire global population to use? The implications of millions of deaths from a risky vaccine could be way more fatal in the long run.
According to Davis, this isn’t the first time that a pandemic has changed the course of history. But much like the Black Death back in the 14th century and other major historical events like the Peasants Revolt of 1381, this too will be one of those moments that will be documented and catalogued for the coming generations to learn about.
But he also explains that aside from the historical significance that the novel coronavirus will have on the planet, while it will impact people’s daily lives, people will, as they always have, learn to adapt to this new normal. After all, he shares, “change is the one constant when it comes to culture.” While businesses, retail stores, restaurants, sporting events, entertainment and travel surrender to this invisible yet fatal disease, just like history before us, people will begin to adjust, and at the same time, forget about what life was like before.
Davis shares that mostly, it’s the financial repercussions that will be the hardest to get over, knowing that all the money that has been lost due to the pandemic can never be replenished. As Ward explains in a sobering message, “Hovering over the global economy for some time will be the sober realization that all the money in the hands of all the nations on Earth will never be enough to offset the losses sustained when an entire world ceases to function, with workers and businesses everywhere facing a choice between economic and biological survival.”
And even more unsettling in Ward’s opinion, is how the United States of America is failing when it comes to winning the Covid-19 war. Although they aren’t the only country to do so, what is happening is that America is being led by what he calls a ‘dysfunctional and incompetent government’ that’s responsible for the highest number of infections – where at the height of the infections – had at least 2,000 deaths every day. In fact, he even shares how the international community, in an unprecedented move, felt the need to send disaster relief to America which is something that has never happened before.
Ward goes on to explain how no empire can last forever, even the United States, and that “every kingdom is born to die.” But while no one ever believes that it will happen, history has proven that this is the reality, time and time again. While every century was ruled by different nations including France, Britain, Germany and more, the United States would eventually become what he explains was President Roosevelt’s promise, “the arsenal of democracy.”
From here grew the American economy, birthing what would become the prevalent middle class, and with it, what the rest of the world refers to as “The American Dream.” But the price of democracy did not come completely free, says Davis. Aside from never truly being at peace, and having American troops stationed in at least 150 different countries all over the world, Jimmy Carter said that of the 242-year history of the nation, the country has only had 16 years of peace as it’s “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.”
Davis also explains that as the country grew, sadly, the heart of the nation – which is family and community – suffered the most. As families were torn apart by members being stationed abroad, people working 9-to-5 jobs that felt like freedom in the beginning and a jail cell the next, the elderly left in nursing homes, and marriages ruined from the exhaustion of basic life itself, Americans have become completely isolated, reducing any true interaction with others. Because of this, reports show that Americans make up at least two-thirds of the world’s users of antidepressant drugs.
Throughout the years, the disparity in America between rich, poor and middle has grown exponentially to the point where the three richest men in the United States have more assets put together than 160 million of the poorest in the country. Davis iterates that while the country prides itself as being one of the “wealthiest in history,” a bigger number of Americans live paycheck to paycheck with no safety net at all.
The pandemic has brought down every pretence that anyone has tried to put up, leaving everything open and bare as people lose their jobs, lose their businesses, and worst of all, lose their lives. As Davis puts it, “COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken.” Under the leadership of a man who suggested the use of household disinfection as treatment and dragged his feet at mass testing, the US quickly rose in the ranks as the country with the worst numbers of positive cases and deaths.
And to make matters even worse, the US is also struggling to keep afloat with issues of police brutality, rioting, bigotry, racism, mass shootings, and just plain incompetence. In fact, Ayatollah Khamenei was even quoted by the Iranian press saying, “America has begun the process of its own destruction.” And honestly, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees.
But even with a president that seems to advocate hatred and nastiness, Trump isn’t to fully blame for America’s descent into mediocrity, or lack of truth and honour for that matter. Despite the country being more divided than ever, with its people no longer knowing where to turn for true leadership, it’s actually been on a decline over the last half-century. For a country that once welcomed immigrants to its lands, now Davis explains it defines freedom as “an individual’s inalienable right to own a personal arsenal of weaponry,” which in turn cultivates the culture of every man for himself.
As Davis explains, the country is no longer working towards a collective good. As coronavirus ravages the country, people continue to riot in the streets and congregate in bars and beaches, all the while not wearing masks, this only goes to show that they no longer care. And sadly, President Trump is leading the pack. And the while almost every nation is underneath a microscope to see how they are handling the pandemic, America has already lost the fight and their numbers are proof of that.
As America continues to strive for that American dream, it just feels like it’s floating further and further away. The upcoming elections in November have many on the fence on whether they want more of Trump and his bailouts, or if it’s time for real democratic change. But many wonder if a change in leadership will actually make a difference, or if, as Davis says, “America has had its time.”