Yes, absolutely. The sixth tenet of Neoism is that rituals are fun and a great way to celebrate values. When incorporating Neoism into ritual expression, the values celebrated are human love, compassion and wisdom.
• American Failure
Brendin: Pandemics are a force of nature that occur every 100 years or so. There is nothing anyone could have done to stop the coronavirus, including President Trump. You can't blame him for what Nature did (or worse, China.)
There are steps we could have taken in the United States which would have made our burden lighter.
Brendin: Such as?
There are three important things that would have made all the difference. First of all, we had about a month of warning that the pandemic was coming. We saw what happened in Europe. It was obvious it would be happening in the United States soon.
The U.S. could have used that time for preparation. We could have established testing protocols, and the public could have been warned and prepared for what was coming. We could have planned effective, sustainable lockdown procedures. We could have prepared the economy and created economic support for the most vulnerable. We could have created a national plan with consistent guidelines that were the same for all. We could have established supply chains for masks, gloves and PPA, both professional and consumer. We could have stocked the stores with sufficient toilet paper.
That time was a priceless gift and the U.S. squandered it pretending there was nothing wrong, really, and anyway, we had already done enough. The result is that instead of preparing our stockpiles and our populace, Americans did nothing.
The second thing we could have done is learn the lessons of nations who had already dealt with the pandemic. We needed to lock down, hard, and support a massive testing and contact tracing system. We needed to enforce consistent mask-wearing and social distancing measures. We needed to provide essential workers with protective gear and guidance for safe operating.
Instead we put out raggedy, half-assed directions, different in every city and state, which didn't go far enough and which many people could not be concerned with following. Worst of all, one of the most effective means to contain the virus, facial coverings, was branded a culture war issue, with the President of the United States actively discouraging their use.
Other countries were getting the virus under control, but we ignored what worked for them and followed NO coordinated plans.
Thirdly, we needed to lock down for long enough to break the chains of transmission and then reopen carefully. Instead, many places rushed to reopen without getting the infection rates under control first or enforcing measures to minimize public exposure. This was pretty much the opposite of what we should have done. The curve was going down only in places with the most effective distancing.
Instead of waiting until infection rates had peaked and bottomed out, many red states opened with infection rates rising. The result has been a massive explosion in cases, and every place where people rushed to reopen, they are now rushing to re-close.
Those three mistakes are costing us hundreds of thousands of lives.
A strong, coordinated national response would have driven infection rates down. It would have been difficult, but we could have done it by fostering a sense of national purpose, a narrative that we were working together in a crisis and that our sacrifices were necessary and would be worthwhile.
Instead we had barefaced people protesting the quarantine, coughing on clerks and gathering by the hundreds to party shoulder-to-shoulder in the pool.
Other countries were able to contain the pandemic and drive infection rates very low. Covid-19 is out of control in the United States right now because of our own national failure.
• BLM Demands
Regina: Can you believe THIS is what Black Lives Matter is asking for?
We are literally negotiating with terrorists.
Lots of countries in Europe have no death penalty, education and healthcare that are free at delivery, legalized prostitution, non-militarized police and prioritized military budgets.
Regina: You can't be serious. Those countries in Europe don’t have anywhere near 350 million people. You seriously can’t understand how much harder it is to provide free services to 350 million people than it is to provide these to 7 million people?
They also have better quality of life, longer and healthier, and are recovering much more quickly as a society from COVID.
Are they as insane as BLM, or do they just like it that way?
Regina: If you care to dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that these countries are already experiencing negative consequences for these choices. Germany is already considering their “free education” policy as colleges and universities fill up and they don’t have the resources to provide a good education. Not enough teachers for the cheap salaries they now have to offer, no money for maintenance, overloaded classes, inadequate equipment.
Countries large and small all over the planet can do it. Only we and handful of developing nations don't.
Are you saying you just don't want to try because it's too hard?
I'd like to know where you are getting this info because I can't verify it. Last I heard, Germany was reconsidering providing this to all comers, but still planning to provide it to citizens.
Regina: And also, these socialist countries are now experiencing another problem. Their birth rate is decreasing and now they starting to see a lack of young people to fulfill the role of providers for the increasing elderly population, It seems all this “free stuff” actually does cost money and they’re not being as solvent as they were before.
Regardless, most countries are not planning to abandon their public education systems.
If they need young people there are plenty in the world. They can invite immigration.
Regina: So if these ideas are already beginning to show their cons in smaller societies and societies more willing to put the greater good above their civil liberties, how on everybody can you think they’ll work in America?
Regina: You can’t just go around throwing free stuff without a serious analysis into whether or not you can do it and have positive results.
They work now, most places that try it, and those things are working better there than here.
Public health insurance is not "throwing around free stuff." It is pooled risk, like any insurance, with a very large pool.
Regina: Can we even afford it?
What could possibly be more important to spend our society's resources on than our health, the quality of our daily lives and our family's?
Regina: What will the lack of money cause in the medical research medical field? How much will it cost America to lose the many patents in new medicines and technology it gets today if R&D has to be slashed down due to lack of funds and resources?
We are losing our R&D to bullshit budget cuts, not healthcare spending, and reversing that should be #11 on the BLM list.
Regina: You can't just invite immigrants. Some of these countries have actually opened themselves to immigration. And now their history and national identity is being lost.
"National identity" is fluid, and immigrants add to it, not detract.
Regina: Every country is founded on different principles and ideas. America is a country that was founded on the principles of independence, hard work, putting personal liberties above all and being an achiever.
What personal liberties have Europeans sacrificed which Americans have?
Regina: These European countries have a very different cultural background. They value the greater good over personal liberties, commodity over achievement. And that’s why they can easily implement these measures and be happy with not being big achievers.
They are achieving a higher quality of life than Americans. They have better, cheaper food. They live longer lives with fewer chronic illnesses, while spending far less on healthcare overall. They have less inequality, less poverty, vastly more leisure time. They are far more enfranchised than Americans. They are typically happier.
Those seem like excellent achievements.
So, demanding that the United States catch up to the 21st century and the rest of the first world hardly makes BLM "terrorists."
• WPS II
Hando: People were out at state capitols this weekend protesting the stay-at-home orders. Some had signs with obvious rebellion and supremist imagery (swastikas). Many had assault rifles.
Based on your discussions with Terry and Mary, I am guessing you would consider the state capitol protests to be more "White People Shit."
Author Frederick Joseph had this to say about it:
Years ago, I peacefully protested the murder of Eric Garner. As we walked past officers I looked at one and he said "Give me a reason to bust your head open." I kept peacefully walking. Had we done this instead, we'd be dead. White privilege.
If anyone can't see that there are two Americas, one that is white and another that isn't — it's because they don't want to see. Every day we see people on the news getting away with things that would have us murdered.
Once again, this is not meant to judge or ascribe behaviors to "white people" as a group. Specifically, it refers to behaviors that white people can get away with, which people of color cannot get away with.
• White People Shit
Terry: So I was watching the Tiger King, have you seen this? I turned to my husband (who is white) and said, "That is some straight up white people shit." He said, it sure is.
Mary: Well that's offensive! Not all white people act like this! Who are you to generalize about people by race, anyway?
The term does not refer to stuff that all white people do, or that only white people do, or stuff that "white people do" because they are stupid or trashy. It is not a slur.
"White people shit" is an observation. It refers to stuff that only white people can get away with, stuff that black people know that they can't do and in fact would be risking arrest for, when the white people in quesiton are clearly not. One viewing of the Tiger King shows that white people can indulge in truly epic levels of crazy, right out in the open, and expect no systematic response at all from law enforcement. It is an observation of privilege.
How did Joe Exotic get away with illegally keeping dozens of giant wild cats? How did he get local law enforcement to donate roadkill to his zoo? What was the local Walmart doing donating remaindered food to him, for the express purpose of feeding animals?
When the rapper Tyga was discovered to have a Bengal tiger in captivity, police raided his house with a search warrant.
The double standard of a society that indugles "white people shit," while criminalizing people of color, makes it a significant observation.
• Gun Epidemic
Ace: Did you see this in the news? Panic shoppers aren't just hoarding toilet paper. They are hoarding guns!
Gun sales surge as coronavirus pandemic spreads.
What are they going to do, shoot the virus??
This is very problematic. First of all, the very basic premise is flawed. Guns don't keep anybody safe. On the contrary, they make people subject to much higher rates of assault, accidents and suicides. Statistics show that the ordinary home is many times more dangerous with a gun in it.
Not only that, but now you have people panic-buying guns who have never had guns in the home before. They are not going to be able to take gun safety courses or be certified, because the classes and schools are closed. They are not going to be able to do target practice or ever become competent in the use of the weapon, becasue the ranges are closed. With zero training and practice, these noobs are complete gun-illiterates.
But, to make matters worse by orders of magnitude, now most people are confined at home in quarantine.
Relationships are being pushed to the extreme by the constant, day-and-night exposure. Not everyone has terrific relationship skills in the best of times. And not everyone is quarantined with their ideal partner. Women in particular are often forced by circumstance to reside with partners they would rather leave, but no one is leaving anyone right now. Also, women are many times more likely to be victims of domestic violence when the family is under stress.
Now add a gun to this poweder keg. Murders of women are most often by an intimate partner, and the chances of domestic violence turning fatal are greatly amplified with tempers hot and firearms handy. We can expect to see an increase in femicide.
Then there are accidents. New gun owners are the most subject to them, including accidents during cleaning and examining their new toy, showing it off, or trying to stow it away. A gun drastically increases the likelihood of a serious or fatal home accident.
And then into this room full of razors, add a bunch of scratchy, screen-spazzed children, who never get to run around outside with their friends any more. While every home now doubles as a classroom and an office, distracted parents, bored kids and shiny new guns are a deadly combo. We can expect to see an increase in unintentional shootings, especially involving children.
Lastly, we have people confined at home, in whatever relationships they happened to be in when the virus struck, with no end in the forseeable future. Many are trying to manage new work-from-home routines, and that's if they are lucky. Other workers are constantly running the risk of exposing themselves and their own families to the virus in order to perform essential jobs. Millions more are out of work entirely, whole industries shut down, and with no savings, outstanding debt, and no clue where the next dollar is coming from. The whole economy is on the verge of collapse. Depression and sbustance abuse, particularly alcohol, are inevitable for many.
Add a gun to this household, will you? Expect an increase in suicide attemps by firearm.
And then suppose, heaven forbid, there is an accident? In many places, the hospitals and emergency services are overwhelmed as it is. Even if the gun wound is not serious, even if there is a doctor available to treat you, even if you can be healed from your stupidity...you have unnecessarily used resources that could be used to help the sick. Not to mention, you are now at massive risk of exposing yourself and family to the coronavirus.
In other words, for all these reasons, the gun illiterates have just made the most dangerous time in human history even more dangerous. Unfortunately, they did not make it only more dangerous for themselves.
• Stand in Line
Dalton: So you are moving to Canada? Welcome to loooong wait times for hip surgery! Canada has a terrible healthcare system.
MaryAnne: Actually Canada's wait times are not significantly longer than the United States for non-emergency surgery. You'd wait awhile for hip replacement in the gool 'ol US of A, too. Or forever, if you don't have insurance!
You would have better healthcare if you lived there than here. Why are you against universal coverage?
Dalton: I don't want to wait in line for healthcare!
The conservative disdain for universal healthcare has never been about "waiting in line." For one thing, it's just not true that countries with universal healthcare have "lines," any more than the U.S. (definiately!) does. "Hip surgery" in particular is often held up as a negative example, strictly because it is the kind of surgery which is usually scheduled a long way out. Everyday healthcare, and emergency heatlhcare, are delivered in countries with universal coverage as well as they are in the United States.
It's not the quality of the coverage that people fear. It is the "universal" part. People don't really mind the thought of waiting in line for healthcare, like they already do (it's called a doctor's appointment.) What they dislike is the prospect of waiting behind people they find less deserving of healthcare, like the poor and people of color. People will deny themselves universal healthcare just to be sure sure The Others don't get it.
Universal healthcare would have gone a long way toward alleviating our current national health crisis. I hope we learn this lesson at last.
• Change the World
Kelsey: How will we ever recover from the Coronavirus crisis? And even if we do, then what? Do we just go back to the climate crisis?
How can we make a world we can live in?
There are three things to understand. One is, we can't save the world without changing it, all of it. We have to make it fair and sustainable. That means fair and sustainable for everything that is left alive, in ways that consider the rights of all.
The resources of the last century are concentrated in the hands of those who have contrived to hoard the spoils. Unfortunately, we have no law to fit this crime, to reckon with the plunder of every single iota of value created by humans since the Renaissance, and every strand in the web of life on earth. We can't even reckon with the crimes of the last few horrible centuries of colonialism, the last few holocaustic decades of capitalism. We don't understand what we have done, as a world. So, the second thing to understand is what we have stolen, which is everything. And this needs to be understood by everyone.
The third thing to understand is how to right a wrong, and the answer is to put it back. We have to put back everything that was stolen. To the extent that we can, with modern realities on the ground accounted for, we have to restore everything that was plundered. This means we have to give back the vote and representation which has been suppressed. We have to give back the social services that have been cut. We have to repair the democracy that has been broken.
Then, we have to go back further, throughout the rise of the modern conservative era, which stagnated the middle class and concentrated wealth at the top. We have to give back the technological gains in productivity to the workers, what they would have had if wages had been fair throughout the rise of post-industrialism.
But then we have to go back even further. We have to give back the stolen labor that made America the winner of the Market Revolution. We have to give back everything that was taken from the enslaved - their labor, their generational wealth, their literacy and dignity.
Then we have to go back and give back everything that was taken from these lands within easy historic memory of the United States, or find some way to compensate for it. We have to make up for taking everything by giving everything. Or at least, everything people need. We have to give health, and education, and justice, and science, and freedom.
You see, this crime is so vast, this debt so unreparable, that the only way to make sure we have paid enough on this debt is to give everything to everyone. Everything that we have to give needs to be given everywhere to make sure it all goes to health, education, justice, science and freedom for everyone.
We will need to save the earth about three times in the near-term future. We can do this by one, changing it entirely to be fair in all the ways it is currently unfair; two, we need to understand that everything we have and all our problems are because of our theft; and three, we need to repair that theft by giving it all back. At least until society has enough resources to provide the best for all. Maybe even longer than that.
Read more in the Archives