In the midst of the pandemic it has probably occurred to a number of us to take a step back and re-evaluate our situations. Complicating day-to-day life has provided a chance to actively look at our day to day routines in a way that we normally just autopilot our way through. We’ve seen the same people that claim that we all need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps whine at the notion that they might have to go a little while without a haircut. A country that can bail out multinational corporations but can’t be bothered to worry about the little guy. That same little guy that folks are demanding cut their hair without concern for the health of the barber. The barber serves a purpose. They are a transfixed figure that exists only in the context of cutting the individuals hair.
But that isn’t how life goes. We are all undeniably part of something bigger. That the barber has a building and a chair and people can find it and pass through is just one facet of the larger community. We all see the day to day as existing around us. We see from our center and look out. Cars on the road aren’t full of people with day to day lives and families they are just traffic. Everyone wants to be the priority because we think with our priorities first. It can’t be said for certain whether people are better off on their own or in a group. My opinion is that when we are able to work together toward common goals because we understand the situation and can make accurately informed choices that we reach greater heights than we are able to achieve through individualistic thinking. The buck stops with the individual, but the individual choice to work cooperatively is powerful.
Currently, that individual choice to work together is being spread through whispers and discordant bird song. Disaster provides us with an exposure of some of the facades. A boiler plate where we can reduce things to their core values. We’ve discovered that a remarkable number of us are completely unprepared for something like this. Some companies are bragging about their ability to scramble together a response and a react to the situation as it arises but moments like this require forethought and mitigation. People have been told for years that their work is unskilled labor that can be replaced by anyone able to walk in off the streets and are now being told that their jobs are essential to the function of society. If they are so essential then why are they making so much less? Shouldn’t essential status be increasing the demand and therefore the cost should rise. We should be providing the gratitude that capitalism allows in the form of compensation. Instead we give money to companies that lost their cash on stock buy backs. In response to people making this demand the company shows their hand when they let the organizers go. They aren’t interested in having the workers united under any flag other than their own.
So some of those workers might turn to other work. Find some roots in their community and decide that type of work might be more in line with their values. They find an entrepreneur that recently purchased a favorite roadside hot dog stand and is trying to start a new concept in a local dying mall. They also have two lawsuits open against them, (this next part is speculation because I’m not a lawyer and only kind of understand law dockets). One of which appears to be a partner suing for fraud and the second is a labor action by employees who are filed as managers to avoid paying overtime. It took me 15 minutes of googling to go from hopeful to dismayed about this individual doing business in town. There is a news article about him working with the mayor to distribute lunch to children who might have relied on the school for providing lunch. Publicly this individual may be viewed as a local hero for his efforts, but that heroism is hiding the darker elements of where his ambitions lead him. What do we do when the monsters can all hide their true nature so effectively? Is it even fair to call them monsters? The values we praise as a society are decided by a few and then declared to be arbitrary. We internalize these notions the same way that victims of bullying grow to think that the taunts are the truth. Are the viciously ambitious monsters or misguided? Or right? The world doesn’t seem to have an answer, but that seems to be the way of the world itself.