I have been reading a plethora of op-eds and friends’ emails all expressing concern how the pandemic should have bought people together, but instead it has driven them further apart. Renown NYT columnists, Thomas Friedman and Frank Bruni labeled it “Societal Immunity” and “Tribalism” respectively. Why all the Pandemic Indifference?
To get an interesting perspective regarding the Pandemic, I continually engage with my favorite historian, my centenarian mother who has experienced the Great Depression, WWII, the bomb, FDR to Trump and everything in-between. I posted two interviews we conducted on LinkedIn.
In the first interview, when I asked how the COVID-19 pandemic compared to all of the history she witnessed/experienced she responded: “Awful! The worst!” Back in September 2020 she made the observation, people were not pulling together. Verbatim (edited): “The pandemic has changed how mankind reacts to a major crisis. Instead of pulling together, I feel the fear in the air and it is every man for himself. During the Great Depression we had nothing, but I remember people knocking on our backdoor begging for food. My Mother would give them whatever bread or soup leftovers we had. Rationing of gas and food during WWII was a hardship, but we all supported the plan. In addition, patriotic young people went off to war to preserve democracy. During the pandemic, people to me, appear to only care about their own turf. You witnessed it here in Europe. Instead of the EU pulling together during the pandemic, each country did its own thing. Back in the States, there wasn’t a national unifying plan.
In our most recent interview she advocated fragmentation in society is rampant as the pandemic sticks around. Specifically, she alluded to the inequalities in global vaccination distribution since there isn’t a unifying plan, as well as a deeper fragmentation festering with the anti-vaxxers. People are not pulling together. Fragmentation is contributing to the Ultimate Divide.
Not long ago we read the Bruni op-ed. I asked her why are we witnessing so much societal indifference during the pandemic. She agreed with Bruni, but thought tribalism goes beyond America and is global. “The pandemic revealed mankind’s tribal behavior.” She added there are no strong world leaders to pull all the tribes together. Then she coined an expression I now frequently use: We live in a Toxic Turvy world.