My son turned 33 yesterday. He is my first child, my introduction to a life that wasn’t just about me. He was, thanks to a happy accident of timing, my Mother’s Day gift. The anniversary of his arrival has always been a happy day for me.
But this year, this birthday, the reality of where we are now, the fact that he, his sister, the people they love, the two little girls he brought into the world, all have to live in this America, this tragic place, breaks my heart.
We live in an America that idolizes wealth and fame, mistrusts education, and elevates an Internet troll to the highest office in our government. His bitter trolling emboldens other trolls, who also don’t restrict their hate to the internet. They don’t object to the separation of families and imprisoning of children. They take up their guns to protest efforts to contain an illness that has killed 270,000 people around the world, that has killed more people in our country than the Vietnam War. They shoot people who ask them to wear masks during a pandemic.
But while a pandemic is shutting down our economy, the American experiment is failing, too. It is being killed by a virus of corruption and greed that has finally overwhelmed it, and those who would defend it are inside, maintaining social distancing, and posting angry emojis on Facebook.
The headlines of the past few days have made me think maybe it’s too late. If a president loses no support when he vows in a pandemic to eliminate health insurance for a population, there is no bottom. There is no point at which his supporters will notice that none of his policies were motivated by anything other than spite, hate, or greed.
This is America. This is the future we’ve allowed. And it’s uglier than we could have imagined.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.