The USA and COVID-19

The USA and COVID-19

The United States of America (USA), a country founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, has branded itself as the richest, most powerful and greatest country in the world and a bastion of democracy. This branding has captured the imagination of people across the world who see the USA as a land of opportunity. But, what is the place of the USA in the world and is the external perception of the USA the reality? Let’s find out.

The USA—the richest, most powerful and greatest country in the world

For now, the USA has the largest economy in the world and is, indeed, the richest country in the world. It is also ranked the most powerful country in the world. American culture, as it is experienced through its food, globalised media and entertainment industry, has been held up as the ideal and this view has permeated almost every society. The USA is the country to visit, the country in which to live, the country to experience—the land of opportunity.

The USA—a land of opportunity

Many immigrants leave their countries for the USA to seek a better life for themselves and their family. Many of them find this better life as the faces of immigrants can been seen on the ladders of success in the USA. I say ladders of success because no matter the field of employment that many immigrants find themselves, they see themselves as success stories, because they are able to achieve much more in the USA than they would have achieved in their country of origin. As such, the USA, indeed, has proven itself to be a land of opportunity for them.

The USA—a bastion of democracy

Democracy—government of the people, by the people and for the people, is the chant of every American, young and old. America so believes in the principles of democracy that it exports them to the rest of the world that it views as being undemocratic. In addition, it gives these countries cash and kind as incentives to walk along the democratic path. The USA seems to have such a strong belief in democratic principles that it even wages wars, ostensibly, to stamp these principles into the psyche of the conquered.

Its history and its claim to be governed by democratic principles, among other things, have created in its people a sense that their way of life is superior to that of other cultures, a belief that they are special and hold a special place in the grand scheme of things – an arrogance one may say, what is termed American exceptionalism. This arrogance may have created a blind spot in many Americans because, as recent events have shown, America is not the bastion of democracy that it claims to be.

How is the world’s perception of the USA holding up during this COVID-19 crisis?

Over the last nine months or so, the rest of the world has been watching the USA. What they have seen has fractured the image that they held of the USA.

COVID-19, as it played out in China, was a warning to the world that it intended to visit every country. Travel was going to be its vehicle. The USA, as the leader of the free world, has been constrained in its handling of this crisis by the freedoms that its democracy guarantees to its people – freedoms without responsibility, the freedoms to do as one pleases. Individuals, they say, should make the decisions that they believe is best for them. For example, wearing a mask to give them a measure of protection from COVID-19 if they come in contact with an infected person and to give others a measure of protection from them if they are infected is seen as an intrusion on their freedom, many believe. So, COVID-19 and the USA have been doing well together. 

Since January 2020 the onlooker could tell that the USA and COVID-19 would be a good fit for each other because of the  perspective of Americans about freedom of the individual to do as he sees fit. As China and all the countries that have managed to keep COVID-19 under control have shown us, to control the pandemic requires many sacrifices of citizens - wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing and not touching your face. Sounds manageable, right? Wrong where the USA is concerned! While they may be willing to wash their hands more than usual, socially distancing and wearing masks are anathema to many of them. These principles are against their democratic rights. They are un-American! So, many Americans maintain their liberties while the virus runs amok throughout the society. 

In addition, to the illness and death that COVID-19 has unleashed on the society, it has devastated the economy and has shown up its inequalities. And in the middle of this crisis a pre-existing crisis reared its ugly head – racial injustice, played out in the suffocation of George Floyd, which unleashed the simmering racial tensions in the society. 

Many Americans who would normally have been unconcerned about the killing of another black person rose up, in mostly peaceful but also some violent protests, to demand change. The rest of the world is learning much about America during this time and much of it is troubling which has led me to pen this poem, Cry for America.

Conclusion

Finally, as the leader of the free world, the USA must do better. It must lead by example. It is great that it shows concerns for the rest of the world by giving them tangible support to improve their condition. However, it would be nice if it fully adopts the COVID-19 mitigation strategies suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) so as to protect its citizens. The rest of the world will America with more respect than ever before if it sees it doing the right thing by its citizens where COVID-19 is concerned, where racial justice is concerned, where commonsense is concerned. But, that is not on Americas list of priorities for the moment.

In the meantime, the USA and COVID-19 continue on their paths of destruction. By not managing to control the transmission of the virus which is ravaging the country, the USA has created the conditions for the poor and powerless in the country to stare their oppression in the face, reject it and demand solutions, which the powerful are not willing to countenance at this time, deepening the tensions in the society. To make matters worse COVID-19 is knocking down the vulnerable in the USA who, for the most part, are the ones who have had to deal with the systemic, structural problems in the country. 

No doubt, the USA has lost some of its standing in the world over the last four years but moreso over the last nine months as a result of its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. However, it is still the richest and most powerful country in the world, for now.

In the video below DW News analyses the impact of the Trump Presidency on the European Union.


About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a teacher and author of three books. Her business is to write stories set in the place she knows best – Jamaica – while also helping writers to write their own stories. 

When you are ready to write your story, make contact with her @ writingwisdomtree@gmail.com

Check out her books here.



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