San Francisco, California

A Problem of Trust

It wasn’t just attacking our bodies. Instead, the pandemic had found a weakness in the unbreakable social bonds that we share with one another. Our need to hold someone, to hug them, to be close to another person, anyone, even a stranger. But now, as cases in Europe are falling and the pandemic is still devastating us here in the States, I realize that the virus attacks more than just our bodies and the social bonds between us.

The virus has found other forms of weakness.

Countries outside the U.S. have proved that the pandemic is not a tech problem, as they understood relatively early that the only way to fight this pandemic is with brutal, unnerving honesty; accurately reporting cases, providing tests for those that need them along with free health care, isolating people that have the virus, etc. All that honesty requires enormous doses of courage, too.

This is why America is wrecked by the pandemic, because we cannot fathom problems that are beyond the realm of tech. Everyone is frantically waiting for the vaccine or an app—a magic spell that will remove the curse—but this virus is highlighting the most important problem in our society today, one that no magic spell can deter. And that’s because the pandemic is not a problem with tech, it’s a problem with trust and honesty and having spent the last 4 years unbundling our civic discourse in public—tearing apart the seams between us all. Setting us all on a knife’s edge.

It’s why we’re obsessed with potential vaccines, whilst other countries have proved that we simply don’t need one to control the situation. Here in America we would rather a business swoop in to save the day, instead of look closely at ourselves and the qualities that the virus has latched onto. The qualities that are in such short supply today; trust, honesty, courage.

To fix this problem our federal, state, and local governments—the body politic at large—would have to discard everything that they know about the world and how they operate. They would have to ignore everything the news says, they would have to ignore the worst parts of their base. They would have to do something devastating to their political careers, but essential for the health of our nation: They would have to be honest. They would have to grow a spine.

Also, hi, did you know that there’s only 95 days, 13 hours, and 14 minutes until the election? We can fix this problem slowly, painfully, with one vote at a time. Our country really doesn’t have to function in this way. We can build a government worthy of our trust and worthy of our pride and all it requires is us to take action. We can donate. We can register to vote. Is it a small degree of change? Yes. Will it fix the country tomorrow? No. Will you be remembered as a freedom fighter for donating $5 to a political campaign you believe in? Probably not.

But each tiny act like this builds on the next, all these moments snowball into something important, something vital: a government worthy of our trust and worthy of our pride.