To me, America is like a great white shark. It’s sleek, it’s big, it’s an inevitable part of life, it’s at or near the top of the food chain, and, particularly in certain parts of LA, there’s an awful lot of very white teeth.
And you could spend a lifetime studying it and not understand it.
So, let’s briefly talk about Japan.
After WWII, Japan adopted a policy, like the much-maligned Basil Fawlty, of “Don’t mention the war”and more or less expunged WWII from their education system. This was a really great idea up until a thing called the internet, where all of a sudden Japanese people had to confront events in their recent past that they knew nothing about. For many of them, they felt the information was obviously fake and all the photos doctored. An interesting perspective on this is related here via the BBC.
What I find remarkable, though, is that America does have access to all the information. It’s a society of great access to information – of course access varies, but most people could access a library and more latterly the Internet – but it seems to be a society where not everyone values information. Or to be more precise, information has a varying value depending on whether it confirms your existing beliefs.
Of course, nowhere is that more obvious than in the President of the United States, and I doubt anyone ever has done more to foster this culture of head-in-the-sandism, but I’m not writing about him today, Well, at least, not directly.
As I write this over 125,000 Americans have died of the corononavirus; if you’re reading it over the next few months I imagine that Americans will be dying as you read it.
So many of these deaths could have been avoided, and that is on conscience of the people who could have, but did not, handle this well, but today I am specifically going to look at one tea shop’s response.
Much of the US has made masks compulsory, as a sort of last minute, we-might-as-well-try-something reaction to having failed to contain the coronavirus, and a tea shop in Washington State managed to make the news yesterday by putting up a sign advising that masks were not permitted in their store. This is in a state where masks are mandatory.
To say the internet has gone off has been an understatement.
Someone photographed the sign, a few customers objected, the media arrived, the company first defended their position, then issued an apology of sorts, including this phrase:
” The “No Mask” sign in the window was put up as part of a debate about these issues within this business and with our customers- something we have been doing since the onset of Covid 19. I believe in the value of reflection, debate, and inquiry in all matters”
As of right now, there are 304 comments. I counted 64 before I found one that supported the tea shop, I got to near 100 before I found a second. And both of those were supporting the shop and the apology, not the sign. What I didn’t see was anyone commenting to say “Go you, let’s keep those evil masks away”.
A common theme is to pick up n the concept of “debate”and note that this is neither a time nor an issue for debate.
I’m quite uplifted by this. We tend to see America at it’s stupidest in shared videos and news bulletins (particularly those from the White House) and so the fact that a majority of locals are piling onto this guy and his stupid mistake is really heartening.
Will this put the tea shop out of business? Yes, I think so. While it’s a shame that someone has probably invested time, money and heart, well this is the price you pay for stupidity – but only sometimes.
When you run a tea shop, it’s quite a local business, so if thousands of people all around the globe suddenly hate you, it’s no big deal. I have been to a tea shop in Washington State myself, but I doubt that many other residents of Adelaide, South Australia would be able to say that truthfully. (Not this tea shop, I should add).
But many of those commenting are clearly local, and that will hurt.
Many businesses will disappear during this pandemic though no fault of their own., This is not one of them. This one has no-on else to blame.