We, in the United States, are a Globally connected country through Internet and social media. We are not isolated but are part of a World Humanity that faces common threats and challenges. Isolationism is no longer a viable Global approach for any Country. All Countries must participate on a Global basis to preserve our planet, prevent war, famine and disease, while instituting policies and practices to promote the welfare of the World and the inhabitants therein - Human, animal species, natural resources and air.
It is tempting, and common Human behavior, to myopically focus on that which is personally threatening and operate in a manner of benefiting us personally in our daily actions. Economic theory has long touted rational behavior, yet that does not take into effect the harm to our Planet. See: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-macroeconomics/chapter/reading-rationality-and-self-interest/ In the year 2021 that behavior is no longer acceptable. Self-centered economic and personal behavior will no longer benefit our Country, the World and the Planet, much less contribute to one's future generations. It might be a short-term personal behavioral approach to behave in one's personal betterment without thought of the foregoing, but it brings long-term harm. It is now proper to consider one's behavior in light of Planet ecological good, from natural resources, health, welfare and Humanitarian goals. Being selfish harms us, now and will in future generations.
No matter your age or financial situation, it is a good thing to stand back, take stock of your thoughts on the above and consider modifying your behavior to better our Planet and the inhabitants therein - any proactive step, no matter how small, can make a difference. Greta Thunberg can give us insight, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Thunberg
The United States has a varied cross-pollenated cultural viewpoint, honed, shaped and fashioned by its history of diverse settlement by immigrants seeking a better future. Bringing rich foreign cultural sentiments, behaviors and norms, the United States culture is not homogenous but a multi-faceted changing landscape that impacts our overall collective norms, customs, laws, behaviors and perspectives. Yet, in the year 2021, our populace has been turned against itself due to heritage, skin color, religious beliefs and personal prejudices. The Country has turned its back on the Constitution's "one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
How we became so fractured, personally ill-informed, isolated, bigoted, hating and self-serving culturally, and how we strayed from our Founding Fathers' goals is a long, at times, tortured journey. Yet, many remain positive that we can again return, not to the good ole days, but to a new level of cultural acceptance that our Founding Fathers envisioned. It is up to all of us and each of us to focus on the Country's common good, the goals of our Founding Fathers and not tear asunder each other and our Country. Bigoted personal behavior has no place in making our Country a beacon of liberty, justice, acceptance and opportunity. It is worthwhile to reflect on our personal behavior to include a change, if necessary, to uplift our Country from erosion of its cultural goals envisioned by the Founding Fathers. As President Kennedy, thinking of the common good, aptly remarked: "Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country." See: https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/education/teachers/curricular-resources/elementary-school-curricular-resources/ask-not-what-your-country-can-do-for-you
Please Note: We take no, and do not promote, any political position. Comments are meant to promote self-reflection and observation on Society & Culture on the part of the reader.
The Pandemic has indelibly changed our society and culture forever. Gone are the good 'ole days of pre-Pandemic, return to "normal" will be a new normal that will not resemble pre-Pandemic life. Cultural norms of stability, trust, unity, workplace relationships and more will be changed forever. The normal that was centered on work, income, school, stability, children, leisure, social mobility (and more) is changed forever. The American thread that still, pre-Pandemic, lingered around the Beaver Cleaver moral standards has been shredded. We cannot go back to what was, we must look forward to what is and the opportunities, changes, dangers and challenges that that will presented. Let's discuss...
If anything, the Pandemic has taught us to not trust in anyone and anything, and to socially distance oneself of people in our interactions. The Pandemic has disrupted and severed our nature to socially interact. Interacting on a social level requires trust in people around us. We no more can trust who has the Virus that could bring us death and we can no longer socially engage on a personal and societal level at close proximity for fear of contracting the Virus. We have learned new ways of cleanliness, social distancing and interaction that will stay with us long after the Pandemic has waned. Do we, going forward, want to be that "friendly" with people we don't know? Do we trust the people around us that they will not infect us with a disease? Do we wish to visit foreign lands where people that are culturally and societally foreign may harm us in some way? Do we want to be in close proximity to people? Is the new Normal one of distancing, lack of trust and Zoom interaction? Social events brought to us virtually for viewing in our own living spaces fulfilling? Are jammed packed stadium events a thing of the past? Is rubbing elbows closely interacting at the Slots in Vegas, the local bar or restaurant, a sporting event, at school or in mass transportation now a personal hazard? What will happen may very well affect our mental and emotional well-being unless we are able to adapt to post-Pandemic life. In fact, In fact, mental health and substance abuse has become a concern during the Pandemic and this may very well be a societal crisis going forward. See: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/
Social and cultural familial and societal norms have been shattered due to the Pandemic. We no longer interface, save for virtually, with our neighbors, extended family members, leisure groups and so forth. Virtual is our new interaction tool, lacking in touch, hugs and personal interaction. We no longer can see the full faces of people around us in public, hidden by masks - only the eyes give a semblance of how the distanced person is interpreting our verbal and non-verbal exchanges. Human nature is accustomed to "reading" our interactions in society by facial expressions and that ability is constrained by facial coverings. Going forward, facial coverings are expected to be required for awhile. How are we going to be able to socialize our children going forward if they are to be socially distanced interacting with 3/4 of a face only reading eye actions? Our children cannot attend school, doing so only virtually, losing out on social interactions and mental and emotional developmental needs. They are being brought up in a family environment, isolated save for virtual interaction, lacking outdoor play with fellow children. What will this do to their emotional and mental development? See: https://news.yahoo.com/surge-student-suicides-pushes-las-153720656.html Many children will be left behind due to lack of Internet accessibility - some have only a cell phone to access their schoolwork that can only be used when in a free Internet zone because their parents cannot afford the Internet and computer tools to do so. Parents are either unable or incapable of helping their children learn virtually and this will be an issue going forward. Virtual learning is here to stay, whether on a full-time or a hybrid level due to delivery efficiencies, cost savings and proven health benefits to avoid social contact. The cultural divide between those have have and those that do not will only widen due to educational disability due to the inability to fully access and take advantage of distance learning. School should be for learning and socialization, but it should not be used any longer as a physical parking spot for children due to lack of supervision because of parental need to work. Virtual learning provides a tool for parents to interact with their children in a learning environment which has been sorely lacking for quite a while - dumping all learning responsibilities on overworked teachers. Virtual learning promotes parent-child interaction in a meaningful manner, yet the need for mental and emotional developmental growth will always be there on a social level so that it must be augmented with outdoor interaction. This, during the Pandemic, has been curtailed and going forward the balance between virtual learning, interaction with other children and development can be balanced and even enhanced. Will the children of tomorrow be "concrete jungle" kids, virtually learning from home, socially distancing playing outside solo with no sports or close social interaction (or using the home gym training)? Are we on the cusp of a permanent social change that will never reverse?
The whole concept of a home environment has been upended and will probably not reverse even after the Pandemic has waned. The "home" in whatever manner it is constructed, has always had a social, emotional and cultural bond in our Society. Safe, inviting and comforting, it has special meaning to all of us. Yet, the very idea of a home and what that means has drastically changed due to the Pandemic. Some of moved out of urban areas to countryside living to escape the virus, some have moved back into their parental home, some have turned to other non-traditional ways - living in sailboats, tiny portable homes, campers, buses - and, sadly, on the streets in tents and in their cars due to financial circumstances. Yet, the will to survive and go on living in one's home, no matter what type and shape, will always live on after the Pandemic has abated. If anything, the Pandemic has shown us the importance of what a home means, what comfort and solace it can give, no matter how big or small, how it is constructed and where it is located. The film Nomadland is an important glimpse into alternative living and the meaning of "home." See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomadland_(film)
Our notion of "security" has been deeply ruptured due to the Pandemic. We are no longer financially and physically secure and this may be the new normal going forward. The Pandemic has caused businesses to close, people to lose their jobs and homes, and it is predicted that many jobs will not return due to business closures and changes due to the Pandemic. Without governmental aid, many individuals are facing homelessness and hunger. In our favored society, we are seeing breadlines. How can this be? Are more people destined to descend into poverty due to the Pandemic? We no longer have a sense of stability and security brought by employment. The idea of "getting ahead and moving up", long the American dream, has been shattered for many. Some many never reverse the economic damage wrought by unemployment. The American work ethic is being sorely challenged, many have given up looking for work. Families are suffering. Those in certain industries are able to go on working from home earning a good living, while the backbone of America's employees, the lower wage breadwinners have lost their jobs or cannot work from home because of their skills. Even highly paid white collar workers are being laid off due to business efficiencies gained from outsourcing and remote working arrangements. There is no security for anyone today and the nature of the employment "contract" between employers and employees is changed and will be changed going forward. Yet, as dismal as this is, there are glimmers of hope...
The employer-employee labor relationship has dramatically changed due to the Pandemic. The Pandemic was unexpected and there was little time for our culture and society to adjust to without extreme job losses. Yet, there are signs that this may not be forever and positive change for employees and employers is on the horizon. It will take time to assimilate the changes but they are coming at a fast pace. First, the long held 8-5 work day spent in an office is no longer a requirement, many are able to work entirely remotely and are not expected to work from an office. With that in mind, an employee can live anywhere and not necessarily close to the employer office. How does working from Paris for an American company sound? How liberating it can be in a WFH employee? The days of being bound to an uncomfortable chair in a drab office environment having to interact with dysfunctional coworkers eating smelly food are gone! Never having to view the office plaques of company goals and objectives developed by HR not aligned with employees' own goals and objectives are gone! Gone are the happy schmaltzy work posters encouraging hard work. Now, the work environment is one where an employee (or contractor) is comfortable in their own home environment with their pet. As great as this seems, it has brought about social isolation, a feeling of always tethered to work and pressure to handle multiple tasks while in the WFH environment (children learning virtually, inability to concentrate, the inability to detach and wind down from work pressures and stress). But, this can be overcome and will be in the not so distant future (children will return to school, distractions will wane and methods to detach from work will continue to develop - over and above shutting down the computer). The 1950s 8 to 5 working environment with all the dysfunctional baggage that accompanies it is gone. Company management MUST move forward to understand that work does NOT necessarily make an employee happy or complete an employee's passion in life, take a more compassionate approach, break the old system of distrust of remote work and understand that leading and mentoring will take a new approach. Face time is over!!!!! Companies, too, have learned a lot to survive the pandemic. All industries have been impacted, those that are surviving are acknowledging the benefits of the WFH employee, the cost savings of not having to lease large physical locations and the efficiencies of enhanced IT infrastructure and the WFH business model. This may mean downsizing and loss of support personnel and outsourcing/contracting functions, we shall see. Companies have pivoted out of sheer necessity and have embraced other business models and will continue to do so. The future is bright for them if they can innovate.
Where do we go from here? With the vaccine being rolled out it is likely that we may return to a new normal - some things the same, others new and improved. As with the Industrial Revolution, the IT Revolution and now the Pandemic has changed our society and culture forever and, it appears, for the good. We must look forward to helping those in our Country weather the changes to economically and socially advance themselves and our Country in the future.