Today’s post is a little different; it doesn’t fit well with my ordinary writing on fish, watery places and living in the wild. But these are extraordinary times. We as a society are suffering now due to the weak minds of our media and politicians. But it’s maybe just a reflection of the weakness we’ve allowed.
Finding a starting point is difficult. How did our weakness begin? How did I as an individual become so weak and how did the society I’m a part of also lose its vigor? How did we become cowering wards of the state when we could be overcomers, doers and champions, living up to our reputations as Americans?
Faced with these questions, any individual would offer a different set of answers, I’m sure, and mine are offered with no more authority on the subject than anyone else’s. These are some of my early thoughts on the subject during these weeks of collective cowering from the incipient coronavirus.
For all too many today, the weakness may have started seeping in while growing up in the tightly regulated living spaces of subdivisions with homeowners associations, those most insidious of micro-governments. Where one could ride a bike, what time one had to be off the streets and how extensively one could destroy the front yard were all regulated, as per the watchful eye of old Mrs. Thompson a few doors down. Not exactly the environment in which to raise Spartans.
We’re inoculated early against an ever-growing list of pathogens that our developing immune systems will never have to face. Does this really make our bodies stronger?
As Americans, we grow up with some of the very best, if not the very best, in medical care and parents who don’t want to be painted as neglectful rush bruised and sliced children to emergency rooms as a first resort rather than last. Same with sniffles and infections.
Fighting may result in suspension from school, a visit from the police or even legal action. We have to settle our differences more with the methods natural to women, less by those natural to men. Pacifism is the new suburban religion.
We’ve matured too often with little exposure to the wild, insulated by fences and cultivated environments among cultivated minds. Notable that the Boy Scouts just went out of business.
We don’t fully know yet the damage done by the “helicopter parents” who rapidly became the norm during the child abduction scare of the 1990’s (a time of declining child abduction numbers). Youngsters aren’t allowed anymore to wander off on their own or fill unstructured time with their own ambitions. My entire childhood, lived during the 1980’s, would have been grave cause for concern to the parents of the 1990’s.
What effect has a fatherless adolescence had on all too many of our young men? What is the value of a manly example?
As youngsters, all too many of us grew up with lives structured and regulated – 8 hours daily of mandatory school, clarinet practice, maybe a sport and then time for homework, gearing some for lives of living out the plans of others, rather than their own.
Since 2000, academia has changed significantly, becoming ever more watchful for and resistant to any form of aggression. Now words may be included as a special class of aggression and hence be shut down by collegiate authorities. How weak of mind does compliance now render our young academics? And its not surprising that academic achievement among American men continues to fall in relation to that of women.
Feelings are paramount in modernity, those whimsical, amorphous sensations for which we cannot give an account by any rigorous methodology. What are we free to do when we must take into account the feelings of all?
In modern adulthood, we live under the watchful eye of protective agencies of the government so that our first recourse is to file a complaint and wait for the wrong to be righted. We think more about being taken care of and what we’re entitled to than about how to solve our own problems.
We’ve fallen under the influence of a media who wants to elevate the most inconsequential problems afflicting .0009% of Americans to grave worries. Injustice in any form is cast as an abomination that must be rectified at all costs. Sensationalism drives ratings but how much does media-think infect and weaken our minds?
Our workplaces are incredibly safe compared to those of all humans in all time past, and to most of humanity outside of America today. We’re alarmed by slippery floors, sharp edges or the thought that a weapon might be present on the property.
Too large a subject to do justice to here, but has the diet prescribed by the American government through the FDA made physically weaker Americans? I’m ever more persuaded that this is the case. Look into it for yourself or just give the food pyramid a little serious thought.
Medicine is a booming business in America, maybe because Americans over-medicate and under-nourish. If we sense that something’s not quite right from a recurring itchy scalp to a rumbly tummy, we want medicine for it. And we can’t possibly know the full ramifications of thrusting all that upon our immune or nervous systems. And we don’t want to adjust something about what we’re eating to slowly correct things over time, we want a fix in about the same time it takes to order new sneakers off Amazon.
We forget the fire and ice our fore-fathers passed through in the American Revolution to start us off with something better. We forget that Socrates fought in brutal wars as a member of the indefatiguable Athenian army before his philosophical contentions with sophistry or that Churchill fought in three wars by the time many present young scholars are heading for grad school. We study the thought of great leaders even as we forget their true schooling.
We do all we can to preserve ourselves and our children from pain, eschewing the slogan emblazoned above a certain archway at Coronado, the testing ground of our Navy’s SEAL team: Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body.
And then one day a disease sweeps through the population, one of the most normal occurrences in human civilization, and we run to the sheltering arms of government, one bureau to seal us off from incoming sources of transmission, another to lock-down the thoughtless people and businesses who might spread the disease and still another to send a check in the mail.
We’re told to fear, to shelter in place and to wait on government to make things right. And we comply because that’s all we know.
MORE RECENT CORONAVIRUS THEMED POSTS
Between 2007 and 2011, I walked from Georgia to New Brunswick in 5 long hikes, looking at brook trout streams all along the way. On the fourth of these hikes, I carried a rugged video camera that I used to capture day -to-day life on the trail between Cortland County, New York and Moosehead Lake, Maine. Long ago, I produced 9 videos from this footage and uploaded it to YouTube where these videos sit, seldom seen. Along with my next 9 blog posts, I’m going to share links to each of these videos. This is low-quality footage, especially by today’s standards but gives a real-life glimpse of the trail chronicled in my book, The Dying Fish.
The seventh video of the fourth hike of the Eastern Brook Trout Solo Adventure: