Look At Denmark. Look At US.

“This can only be done,” said Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke, “… because the entire Danish population has made an enormous effort to achieve this.” 

He was talking about Denmark’s lifting all coronavirus restrictions on September 10,  this on the same day that Biden announced mandatory vaccinations for nearly 80 million in the US, sparking more Republican fury.

Yes, Denmark has, at least for now, survived the pandemic. And yes, the US is in the middle of a self-inflicted fourth wave.

75% of Denmark’s population has been fully immunized with vaccines vs 54% of the US. On Sept 10, Denmark had 557 new cases  and 4  deaths. The US had 171,068 new cases and 1,777 new deaths. 

And, it’s worth noting, Denmark’s reporting is far more accurate than ours.  

You can argue relative population size as a mitigating factor. What you can’t argue about is Denmark’s success. 

You know why they’re winning against Covid 19?

They care about each other. They trust each other. They share common values.

We had that, years ago. We shared poverty and loss during the depression, as nature (the Dust Bowl) and economics (the Crash) shattered people ruthlessly. World War II required shared effort and sacrifice, from the draft, to wounds and death overseas, to food and gas rationing at home. Those shared sacrifices carried the country and the world to victory and later drove the country to more success in the 50’s , 60’s and beyond.

Now, some eight decades later, the country is unable to come together for something as basic as fighting a pandemic or assuring everyone the vote.

What happened? A number of things. 

The Draft. It brought Americans from different backgrounds together. They learned from each other and about each other, and the importance of protecting the other guy, because when everyone did that, no one was left unprotected.  

Today? No draft. No national service. No shared sacrifice. 

The Media. News outlets in the last century reported facts. Opinion was labeled as such. There was little emotion because they didn’t want to alarm people. That, too, was a result of a time when the facts were scary enough. 

Today, the news is just a way to get eyeballs, ears, clicks. ABC news’ David Muir delivers the news leaning forward, with his hands on the table, like he’s about to leap up in fear or anger. He, and many reporters and news casters, speak in half-sentences, as though there isn’t time to use full sentences. 

And then, there’s Fox, Newsmax, etc, whose sole purpose is to use a carefully selected set of facts (and outright lies) to gin up the fight-or-flight glands of the tribe. 

Politics. Politics used to be about competing visions and honest debates. Now it’s about who has more money.

Advertising. Where it used focus on the product, now what you see and hear is some variation of “You deserve…!”( new makeup, new car, lower price, bigger house)… “You deserve it all!”

Education. Many of our public schools graduate kids who can barely read and don’t have even basic knowledge of history. (No, the Civil War was not about States Rights, it was about Slavery. Yes, our White forefathers slaughtered Native Americans and stole their land.)

Which leads to the biggest reason: We’ve become selfish. Life is all about us. The notion of “all for one and one for all” has been replaced by  “screw you!” 

To be sure, not everyone is selfish, as we were reminded during the 9/11 Memorials, people running toward danger instead of away from it, putting others’ lives ahead of their own. Yet these heroes have had to fight Congress to get the medical care they were promised.

As you look at the bitter divide today, the lawsuits, the spitting, the fist fights over something as simple as getting a vaccination and wearing a mask, you see what has happened two or three generations after the Greatest Generation.

Denmark is safe from Covid because its citizens have shared values, a sense of community, trust in their institutions and each other.

We used to have that. It’s how we soared through the Twentieth Century, survived the Depression, won WWII, beat measles, small pox, and polio.

Used to.

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)