Germany, history, lessons learned, politicians, politics

Twenty years after 9/11, basic decency is disappearing…

A couple of years ago, I wrote my 9/11 story and posted it on this blog. Almost everybody who was alive on 9/11/01 has a 9/11 story. I guess the only ones who don’t are those who were somehow unconscious that day. Or maybe people who live in remote places they have never left, where the world’s news can’t reach them.

Suffice to say, those of us who live in the modern world, where there’s television and Internet, have a 9/11 story. Or, at the very least, they’ve heard other people’s memories of that day, if they weren’t around at that time. Like… I wasn’t here for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I’ve read and heard plenty of stories of that day. I think 9/11 was much bigger than Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11 permanently changed the world.

I remember 9/11 very well. It was the week after Bill and I, then just “friends”, had a magical Labor Day weekend. No one in our families knew we were dating. So, when Bill went to work at the Pentagon on 9/11, no one knew that he had a special friend who would worry all day, wondering if he had survived. After 9/11, we decided that we needed to make our relationship official. A few months later, we were engaged. We married in 2002.

I remember what it was like for Bill in the days that followed September 11, 2001. At that time, people had come together in solidarity. There were people who offered their support to any and all emergency workers. Police officers, nurses, doctors, military service members, firefighters, were all being heralded as heroes. I remember how people would stop Bill when he was in uniform and thank him for his service.

I read a story this morning about a couple who happened to be on a flight from England bound for Houston, Texas that got diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada. They fell in love while they were stranded in Canada. Aside from falling in love, the couple, along with all of the other 7000 people who were suddenly diverted to Gander because of terrorism, enjoyed the most extraordinary hospitality from the locals in Gander.

Americans were Americans, before they were Democrats or Republicans. People came together to help each other through a crisis. It wasn’t just Americans, either. I wasn’t in Germany at that time, but this morning, I read an article about what it was like in Stuttgart on 9/11. Germans and Americans stood side by side in solidarity as people made sense of what happened.

Above is a post that reminded me about how Germans and Americans came together after 9/11. That photo brought tears to my eyes yesterday, partly because I was moved, and partly because it probably wouldn’t happen in 2021.

Twenty years later, it seems like most of the goodwill and civility that was so prevalent after 9/11 is gone. Now, on 9/11/21, we have people laughing at teenagers who share personal stories about losing family members to COVID-19. Grady Knox, a high school student in Tennessee, bravely tried to explain why he thinks mask mandates are a good thing to have in his school. People told him to shut up. It could not have been easy for Grady to stand up and talk about losing his grandmother. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of people. But for him to stand up and speak and then have his neighbors laugh at him and tell him to shut up… well, that’s just shameful. And it makes me think that those people are not good people. They have learned nothing, and have no empathy for others.

What the hell is WRONG with people?

Today, we have governors who are more interested in money and power than they are in saving human lives (except for the unborn, of course). Joe Biden– recently reviled for the way the U.S. military FINALLY left Afghanistan after twenty long years– delivered a tough speech, expressing how disappointed he is in the complete lack of concern Republican leaders have for their constituents. Biden has been threatened with lawsuits, as he signs legislation mandating that people in certain workplaces get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden is not looking so wimpy now, as he tells the governors to “have at it” in their plans to sue him.

President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

From MSNBC: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-republicans-hope-derail-biden-s-bold-new-vaccine-policy-n1278900?cid=sm_fb_maddow&fbclid=IwAR07wYh1NCrCl2lTB2R_sMkiCVLML7tycCXzr-Srn8oyNeQuZhq0JtZjvOY

I read one comment from a Republican who said if Donald Trump had ever tried to enforce vaccinations, people would be “horrified” and calling for Trump’s head on a platter. However, I think it’s highly unlikely that Trump would have ever done what Joe Biden is doing. Trump does not care about anyone but himself, and he would not have done something that would alienate his conservative base the way the vaccine and mask mandates would have. There is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden has basic decency and respect for others. Donald Trump, simply put, does not.

Donald Trump’s encouragement to get the vaccine was lukewarm… he got boos and laughter. I think he’s created monsters.
Southerners who are getting sick aren’t thinking of anyone but themselves… until they get sick and realize just how fucking horrible COVID is.

Today, we have governors who are gleefully signing legislation that pits neighbors against each other, and puts bounties on the heads of women who seek abortions. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is fine with people walking around, spreading COVID-19 as they tote their guns openly and run their mouths about their freedoms. Freedom means nothing if you’re dead… but try to explain that to some of these folks. They insist that COVID-19 is not a risk for them or or their families… or anyone else. Somehow, they’ve managed to ignore the news stories and documentaries about people who have had COVID-19. They’ve even managed to ignore Howard Stern, who has berated the willfully ignorant.

I can’t wait to vote for whomever runs against this man.
I empathize with his frustration.

This antipathy especially happens on the Internet. Even on the most benign of posts, there’s a chance someone will lash out with nastiness or unnecessary snark. Yesterday, I was answering a question on Toytown Germany from an American who is trying to get her US Moderna shots recognized by a local pharmacist, so she can enjoy a more normal life. I expressed empathy for her situation, commenting that it would be nice if we had a more global solution that would make it easier for people from all countries to get their shots recognized. It’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage the vaccines and reward people for doing the right thing. You’d think that would be a pretty innocuous comment, right? I certainly didn’t think it would go south.

Sure enough, some guy from up north responded snarkily, by sharing a picture of the yellow World Health Organization booklet, and writing that is the global standard that works fine. Yes, it’s true, that yellow booklet is used around the world. But, for some reason, the CDC isn’t using it, so that comment isn’t helpful. There are a lot of Americans who live in Germany. Some of them got shots when they went to the USA, where they were easier to get. Then they came back to Germany and, if they live in an area where there aren’t a lot of Americans, are not able to get their vaccines made official in Germany. This is a problem. I was trying to help someone solve the problem for themselves. For my efforts, I got a shitty comment from some smartass who thought that was the right time to act like a jerk.

I could have ignored it entirely. Or I could have responded with a snarky comment of my own. Instead, I agreed that the yellow booklet is useful around the world, but it’s not helpful to Americans in Germany right now. Americans aren’t issued the yellow booklets, even though that would make things easier. Being rude to me doesn’t change that fact. And then I added that I was trying to be nice, and being snarky and negative isn’t helpful to the community. Those kinds of crappy responses just discourage people from posting, which defeats the purpose of having an online community… or any community, really. Why try to help someone if you’re going to be mocked for your efforts?

I realize that even as I preach about this, I’m as guilty as anyone is. I do try not to respond to people with rudeness. Sometimes, I will admit, I fail. Because, like so many other people, I’m fed up. I’m tired of people who can’t simply cooperate and have basic respect for other people. But still, I think being kind is the better way to go, most of the time. I truly do believe that being understanding and decent is, overall, better than being angry, mean, malicious, and rude. There really is enough of that in the world today.

I think it’s sad that we haven’t learned much from 9/11. On September 11, 2001, people around the world came together in solidarity. On September 11, 2021, a lot of people are acting like selfish jerks. It’s depressing… although, I guess if I look for it, I can find some positive things about today. Like, for instance, the fact that Bill was not killed on 9/11, and despite everything, we’re still together and basically healthy and happy with each other’s company. But it’s hard to ignore all of the divisiveness and evil that is being perpetuated right now.

When things were good…
Twenty years later, when things had really gone to shit.

I do hope that people will find a way to come together. Right now, I’m reminded of the opening of the film, Lean on Me… as we see how things can change for the worse in 20 years. Maybe a new version of Mr. Clark is in order to straighten us all out… Maybe Joe Biden is turning into him now. One can always hope, right?

Standard
condescending twatbags, healthcare, lessons learned

“You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that…” George Carlin

Yesterday’s post garnered more interest than I expected it would. I enjoyed writing it, but as I was writing, it occurred to me that dealing with stupid insults from clueless people– especially men– is a common theme in my life. The Internet has always been a place of less civilized behavior, but it’s gotten a lot worse lately. There are many reasons for that.

I think it started getting worse when Donald Trump became president. He did not win by a landslide in 2016, so there were many people who were angry about the election. They took to social media to vent. Meanwhile, Trump supporters gloated that “their guy” won, and a lot of them became kind of rude and nasty. Both groups had even less regard for others than they used to, say, ten years ago.

This morning, I read a post I wrote back in April 2020. A Trump supporter had posted a picture of Donald Trump flipping people off with both fingers with the caption “Still your president.” In response to that photo, I posted a picture of Trump with a frog superimposed on his chin. Yes, it was kind of saucy, but at least it wasn’t profane. After a couple more increasingly intense comments, the Trump supporter ended up calling me a “cunt”. Then, when I responded in kind, he blocked me. 😀

I know I should have ignored him. For the most part, I do try to ignore people who say and do provocative things. It never ends well, although I don’t mind being blocked by someone who called me a “cunt”. That’s kind of a low blow, even if I don’t know the person, so I didn’t take the insult personally. I did notice, however, that my less than offended response to being called a “cunt” seemed to really offend the guy. I mean, he was offended by a photo of Trump with a frog on his face after he posted a picture of Trump, as still president, flipping everybody off! Then, after trading insults with and finally going to “fightin’ words”, he blocks me when I give him what he was dishing out! It’s hilarious!

For some reason, a lot of men feel like calling women “cunts” is the ultimate power move. In my view, when someone resorts to calling a total stranger a word like that, that means they’ve lost the argument and need to hurl the worst insults they can think of. But I think that if the word “cunt” is the best word you can come up with to verbally slay someone, your shit’s pretty weak.

Likewise, yesterday’s encounter with “Rick” was pretty disappointing and uncivilized. Rick decided to go “ad hominem” in his argument with others. Anyone who disagreed with his comments was fair game for an ad hominem attack. In my case, he wrongly implied that men don’t want to have sex with me. He’s wrong, because as a happily married woman, there is at least one man in my life who loves having sex with me. There may even be others out there, too. In my experience, there are a lot of men who don’t even care too much about what a woman looks like if there’s a chance that they can have sex. They might not ever speak to the woman again, but by God, if she’s willing to put out, they’re showing up for it. 😀 So Rick’s comment was especially stupid… but it was also kind of mean, and unnecessary.

Lately, I think being “mean” is the order of the day. Because along with Donald Trump, and his campaign of being rude and insulting to people, COVID-19 also came along. COVID-19 is some very scary shit, and people who are taking it seriously are pretty fed up with the so-called deniers and rule flouters. And so, some of these folks have lost their basic sense of decency and civility and they’re posting things that are just nasty and, frankly, uncalled for, as well as occasionally just wrong.

For example, yesterday I read an article about vaccine refusers and a proudly vaccinated woman named Karen wrote that if she and an unvaccinated person both showed up at a hospital at the same time, she should be the one who gets medical care. Why? Because she did as she was told, and got vaccinated. Forget the fact that traditionally, when it comes to medical care, providers triage all comers. That means that if you’re not as sick as the other person because you got the vaccine, you will be waiting. That’s called following medical ethics.

It may not seem right or fair, but in the grand scheme of things, not providing the sicker person with medical care is still putting innocent people at risk. That unvaccinated person is going to spread the virus more than a vaccinated person will, and he or she will need more help. We can bitch and moan as much as we want about people who don’t want to get with the program, but when it comes down to it, it’s not ethically right to deny them care. Still, Karen, was insisting that we should just tell non-vaccinated people to go die in the street or something. I couldn’t help but think that Karen was aptly named. 😉 Although, as I have repeatedly stated, I hate the trend of using people’s first names as pejoratives.

I haven’t been in the United States since 2014, so I have missed all of Trump’s presidency, as well as the US version of the pandemic. Here in Germany, the face mask mandates for shops and public transportation never went away. Around here, people do hate the fucking things, but they mostly stoically cooperate with the rules. And, when the pandemic is tamed somewhat, local leaders have shown that they will amend the rules. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people rebelling or complaining, but we’re not seeing some of the sheer selfishness and rudeness here that I have seen described online in the United States. I will forever be grateful to Germany for letting me live here during these very strange times.

But… I do realize that while Trump and his supporters are pretty insufferable, some people on the other side are just as bad. People who laugh at those who get really sick and die, for instance, are just shitty. Because even if the person might have “asked” for it by not taking precautions, it’s still a pretty horrible way to die, and there are innocent people who will be impacted by it. You may feel better for a few minutes laughing at the father of a newborn who mocked vaccines and died, but he still has an innocent infant son who will forevermore be affected by the loss of his dad. Are you also laughing at that baby’s loss and eventual pain? If you are, shame on you.

Moreover, sometimes people don’t get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. I read an article in The Atlantic yesterday about how Americans are “getting it wrong” about the unvaccinated. Many people were commenting on it, but I don’t think most of them bothered to read the article. I think that’s a shame, because the article did have some good information. Like, for instance, there’s a reminder that some people haven’t gotten vaccinated because vaccines are not accessible to them, for whatever reason. Say you live in a rural area, but you don’t have a car. The nearest vaccination center is a stout walk. Maybe you won’t get a shot because of that. Or, say you’re a single parent who lacks access to affordable child care. You can’t leave your child alone so you can get the shot. Or, say you work at a job that does not offer paid time off. You can’t afford to take the time to get the shot or deal with the potential side effects.

Rhea Boyd, who is a public health advocate and pediatrician, was interviewed for the article in The Atlantic. She said:

Availability and access aren’t the same thing. If you have to walk the five miles, you’re going to rethink getting vaccinated, especially if you’re elderly, or you have chronic disease, or the round trip is interfering with other things like work. [Much of] our paid workforce doesn’t have flexibility about hours, or couldn’t take a day off if they wanted to. And if you don’t have paid sick leave to deal with the vaccine or the potential side effects of the second dose, you’ll skip it because feeding your family is more important right now.

Child care is also an enormous issue. If you don’t have someone to watch your children, then what do you do? Many of these things the Biden administration has tried to address. They have programs involving Uber and LyftChild-care organizations have signed on to help with vaccine appointments. There are tax breaks for companies that offer paid sick leave. These are incredible, but they may not filter down to your area. We need to think about local interventions to help stretch them.

See… I think this is good information and something that privileged people forget to think about when they criticize so-called “anti-vaxxers”. But we’re all so eager to run our figurative mouths about the “type” of person who stubbornly won’t get the vaccine. Boyd continues by stating that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by demonizing people who aren’t vaccinated. Because now, we can’t even have a civilized conversation about this. As I’ve repeatedly stated since this mess started last year, there’s a tremendous pressure to say and do the “right” things. And if you don’t, you can be assured of being browbeaten by patronizing people who can’t find it within themselves to listen and respond with empathy and understanding. Boyd continues:

The language we use around unvaccinated people comes with a judgment—a condescension that “you’re unvaccinated and it’s your choice at this point.” That attitude is papering Twitter. It’s repeated by our top public-health officials. They’re railing on the unvaccinated as if they’re holding the rest of us back from normalcy. But unvaccinated people aren’t a random group of defectors who are trying to be deviant. They’re not all anti-vaxxers. They’re our kids! Any child under 12 is in that group.

Just now, I looked at the comment I left on The Atlantic’s Facebook page about this article. I got a few laughing reactions, as well as a dismissive comment about how “bad” unvaccinated people are. I also got a self-righteous lecture from an ER nurse about how she didn’t “need” to read the article, because she’s on the front lines. I resisted the urge to offer her a cookie and reiterated that, yes, she DID need to read the article.

Frankly, everyone should read before they comment, rather than just react to headlines and featured photos. As Rhea Boyd pointed out in her comments in The Atlantic’s article, sometimes people really do have legitimate reasons why they haven’t been vaccinated. Yes, it’s true that some folks are being stubborn and willfully ignorant, but there really can be an issue with access for some people, as well as a lack of information and trust. These are REAL issues. Calling people names and not hearing what they have to say is not going to make them cooperate. But, in fairness, I do have an inkling of the frustration and burnout a lot of healthcare providers must be feeling right now. In fact, thanks to the below video, I got more of an inkling of it this morning.

This is a very powerful video by Dr. Catherine O’Neal. It makes a lot of good sense. But I also think there are people who simply need practical and logistical help in getting the vaccine.

I think things would get better if more people simply cooperated and, as hard as it can be, simply tried to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of just lashing out at them. If we stopped politicizing everything and focused on being decent to each other, I think it’s likely that the situation would improve. But people are frustrated, angry, and under pressure from their peer groups and families to pick a side.

I still have a number of Republican friends and loved ones. I don’t disassociate with people simply because of their politics. I do find Trump supporters puzzling, because most of my friends who like Trump truly are decent people, deep down. I don’t understand how decent people can support Trump. Conservatism, I get, but why not demand someone with basic ethics? Is it simply because people think Trump is the only person who can win an election? If so, that’s really sad, and it’s a bleak sign that our future is going to really suck.

Malignant narcissists do not make good leaders. They can’t be good leaders, because in order to be a good leader, one has to care about other people. And malignant narcissists, by definition, only care about themselves. That’s what makes them abusive, petty, childish, and damaging to others. That type of person cannot lead effectively. And Trump has shown us, time and again, that he’s a malignant narcissist. However, so many people have been blinded by his charisma and showmanship, and the fact that he has diarrhea of the mouth and they find it entertaining, that they forget their basic decency.

I can’t say that Joe Biden is the ideal person to lead the country, but I like him much, much more than Trump. The basic fact that he has regard for someone– ANYONE– but himself and his interests, makes him a better leader. I feel safer with him in charge than the unhinged orange turd who brags about molesting women. Trump is focused on making money, satisfying his pleasure center, and being glorified and admired by others. Those are not the traits of a good leader.

Anyway… I guess I’ve prattled on long enough… Comment sections are going to be the death of me. George Carlin was right when he said, “You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that.” Sometimes, it’s really best to keep scrolling and not respond. I do hope this situation improves soon. Because people are definitely getting meaner and less civilized. It makes me envy people like my friend Matt, who has already checked out of this world and moved on to a place where problems don’t exist.

Standard