How American individualism ruined our nation in 2020

How American individualism ruined our nation in 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 taught the people of the United States a lot of things. It became obvious how easy it is for external forces to take away whatever security we think we have. Middle class Americans learned that their “stable” office jobs aren’t actually that stable. And we realized how much we took live entertainment such as concerts and games for granted. US citizens also saw how inefficient our government is at making things happen due to the individualistic nature our country was built upon.

Many other countries in the world are starting to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, yet the number of cases in the U.S. are continuing to climb. Everyone knows the U.S. was slow to respond to the pandemic; however, this is not why the number of cases keeps increasing, nor is it because the U.S. does more testing than any other country either. 

In fact, “when it comes to testing on a per-person basis, the U.S. is far from the leader, despite recent improvements. Denmark, for example, conducts about twice as many tests per person as the U.S., according to figures compiled by Our World in Data, yet still has less than half the cases of the U.S. per person,” according to Peter Sullivan on The Hill.

The main reason our cases are still increasing is because Americans are selfish. Everyone living in America has this preconceived ideology of American individualism: a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control. This idea of entitlement, that we have rights, that we have freedoms is ultimately what has led to our struggle in this pandemic. 

Because of America’s individualistic nature, people protest the smallest amount of inconvenience, making it hard for any change to happen. “I don’t want to wear a mask”, “If masks work, why do I have to socially distance?”, “I can’t breathe with it on”, “It’s uncomfortable”, are just a few inconveniences people complain about during this pandemic. 

Infographic by: Samuel Hilsden

American individualism takes place in our governmental systems too. “We have a national government. We have a state government. We have a local government. So, there are different rules and regulations that come into play and that can make it difficult to coordinate a consistent response,” Dr. Johnson said on The Denver Channel.

Meanwhile, “Italy, [who was also late in responding to the pandemic], for example, had a similar per capita case rate as the U.S. in April. By emerging slowly from lockdowns, limiting domestic and foreign travel, and allowing its government response to be largely guided by scientists, Italy has kept COVID-19 almost entirely at bay. In that same time period, the U.S. daily cases doubled, before they started falling in late summer,” according to TIME.

Ever since the beginning of our nation, America has always strived to be on top. We sweep the Olympics, we won the space race and the arms race, and we have the largest, most powerful military on the planet. Yet, we are failing miserably to be the first to bounce back in our recovery against this pandemic. 

Americans have the preconceived perspective that due to our individualism, we’re the best people in every aspect. However, our reactions to the events of 2020 show otherwise and the rest of the world is laughing at us for it.

Even I used to be one of the people who thought masks were annoying and that they didn’t do much to help. But frankly, it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m tired of the shutdowns and the limited class sizes. And I’m tired of having to wait outside a store or restaurant when grabbing food because they have reached their socially distanced “max capacity”. 

Even though there is a vaccine on the way, we really have no way of knowing when things will actually get any better. It could be months, it could be another year, or potentially even more. But if we just all pull our masks up above our noses, maybe things will get better quicker, and we can all get back to our normal lives.

Samuel Hilsden, Online Editor