It’s unfortunate American values and belief systems are incompatible with successfully managing the COVID-19 pandemic. We resent or measures that are effective, but inhibit our freedoms or are even mildly inconvenient (social distancing, wearing a mask).
Wearing a mask is the perfect example. All of the ‘rugged individualism’ that people identify with as being distinctly American is counter to thinking communally and putting the good of others above yourself. It’s telling that wearing a mask is more to protect others than it is to protect you and so many are unwilling to wear one.
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A distinctly American idea is that liberating oneself will result in the liberation of everyone else. This helps explain teenage rebellion (the whole system is broken so I’ll be a nonconformist and everyone else will follow), but also the behavior of anti-maskers (I value my freedom to decide what’s best so I’ll be loud about not wearing a mask and show everyone). While outwardly projecting a message that this is good for everyone, it’s deeply rooted in selfishness.