The American Dream versus Self-Quarantine

I sit here typing this with many questions running through my mind about the state of our world and why this is all happening. I am wondering why the United States wasn’t better prepared for this epidemic when it was inevitable that it was going to hit us and we had months to prepare. I sit here wondering why people are still going out regardless of what the “rules” are and what our government and major health organizations are saying to us. I look at countries like China and South Korea and ask myself why the United States cannot simply do what they did to “flatten the curve” and in my head, the only answer is the American dream that has been ingrained in us as U.S. citizens.

From a very young age, in school and by our parents, and the people around us, we are taught about the iconic “American Dream;” we are taught to fight for ourselves to get what we want. We are taught that anyone from any background can make it and be successful if they want to. This ideal is good and well, but over time, this has turned into complete capitalism and has proven to be an almost fairy-tale like motto. I think what Covid-19 has taught us, is that we as an American society, put individualism above collectivism. 

This situation has shown that people in the United States tend to think about themselves and their motivations before thinking about how it could impact others. We all saw the videos of spring breakers who still went to the beaches in Florida instead of staying home because of ignorance. We all saw the pictures of crowded subways and streets in American cities because people were still going to work. And with work and jobs, some people do not even have a choice. Due to Covid-19, many middle-class and lower-class Americans still have to put themselves in danger to provide for their families. Unlike countries such as Italy where their government is suspending mortgage payments to help their citizens during a financially hard time. 

If we take the current situation of the virus and look at the United States, it is quite worrisome. The old story of the American dream is still used in today’s very different world, and now, anytime something can be done for the greater good, it is demonized. The American dream has become so capitalist that instead of focusing on putting trillions of dollars into healthcare, our government has put it into the economy to make the stock market look good. Instead of focusing on people’s health, we are focused on how soon workers will be able to be put into action again. Our leaders cannot seem to understand that bailing out big companies and big industries will not fix an economy that relies on millions of workers. The quicker we help the sickly and the healthcare workers who are in need or supplies, the faster we repair a broken economy.

These last couple of weeks consisting of self-quarantining for Americans seems to be a major challenge, and one of those factors is the capitalist nature of our country. American people do not know how to rest; American people don’t know how to enjoy the calm. The promise of the American dream is that if its citizens work hard enough, if they never ever stop the “hustle”, they will not be part of the lower class. And if you are poor, well that is just because you are not working hard enough to achieve what the top one percent has. America is one of the most fast-paced countries in the world and in my opinion, this can lead to self-destruction.  Instead of listening to those cheesy Instagram posts that say now is the time to learn a new hobby or spend more time with your loved ones, the American people have to worry if they will be able to survive on what is currently in their bank account, knowing that the government cannot agree on a way to provide assistance. Self-quarantining has proven to be the exact opposite of the American dream, which will only make the virus spread faster.