Our fitness center at the Fox Valley Park District has been working hard to provide opportunities for people to return to their facilities for training.
The pool was one of the biggest challenges because the health precautions necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are fairly prodigious.
The pool finally opened a few weeks back. It was odd to visit the facility and find people washing down every square inch of the pool deck between sessions. But here’s the thing: that pool was already well tended by the maintenance team. Even before the Covid crisis, I admired the cleanliness of the facility and often complimented those who performed that work.
In fact, one morning while swimming a year ago I noticed the strong scent of bleach passing over the water. I made mention to the staff that the chemical smell was strong. “This whole pool is a chemical experiment though, isn’t it?”
The pool maintenance manager nodded. “Yes it is.”
That said, it is still important to take the extra measures necessary to wipe out traces of Coronavirus at the pool. So they’re even more aggressive in the daily plan.
Hopefully, that is appreciated by those who use the pool. But when it opened again, and lap swimming became available through the FVPD website, some people went in and locked up all times, then didn’t show up to swim.
That left many of us unable to get a lane. There were clearly lanes sitting open every day. We kept hearing from friends that four or five lanes a day sat idle. That wasn’t the fault of the park district. That was the fault of selfish, fearful people being hogs about their own instincts.
Fear and Selfishness
Such are the effects of fear and selfishness on the human psyche. These two vexing instincts are rampant in American culture right now. On one hand, many people are afraid of catching a potentially deadly disease while others consider the pandemic a conspiracy to take down the president. Thus we have people protecting public health by wearing masks while others are screaming that it violates their personal rights. Presumably this is because they fear that the government will take over their lives if they abide by some simple public health considerations.
Fear. And selfishness. It is sometimes impossible to separate the two. One is the motivating factor and the other a reactive symptom of poor conscience and conflicted ideology.
Fear. And selfishness. The cure for the former is education. Learn the source of your fears they often dissipate. But when people resist all information about the cause of their fear it only magnifies. It is further fed by conspiracy and false blame.
That’s when the latter instinct kicks in. In response to fear, people often engage in selfish behavior. That was what drove the shortage of toilet paper when the Trump Virus (thanks to his feckless denial of its presence) first swept over America. Fear drives millions of people to buy guns with the expectation that they have to defend themselves from other people with guns. Or, they imagine those fears into place based on issues of race or distrust of the government. The tautology of fear and selfishness is a pandemic all its own.
As we’re seeing on a daily basis, that selfish response to fear becomes an almost autonomic reflex. The psychology of “I’ve got mine and you can’t take it away” is the result of both fear and selfishness. The same mentality drives much of our economic policy in America. The wealthy are some of the most fearful people you will ever meet. Their money is a source of insulation against the raw realities of the world.
That same rancid ideology of fear and selfishness drives the Make America Great Again slogan that is nothing more than a dog-whistle signal to Americans whose fears over race and civil rights for black people, gays and women have never really abated in this country. And MAGA wants to drag the country back to a time when that fear and selfishness was acceptable and the dominating premise of citizenship. It’s a sickness all its own as well.
Those empty lanes at the pool were a testament to people fearing they wouldn’t get a chance to swim. So they grabbed up reservations in a selfish reaction to the one of the most minimal forms of government possible. Their perception of the public pool is plain enough to see: they think their membership means they literally own it, and their needs come first.
That’s how many people view the entire nation, as their personal property. No sharing it with foreigners or people different from them. The psychology of “I’ve got mine…” and “We don’t need your kind around here…” go hand in hand. Fear. And selfishness. Prejudice. And false patriotism.
The park district has now wisely changed its policies because people were selfishly abusing them. I say thank you to all involved, because life in America right now is a conflicted mess of fear and selfishness. The nation is drowning in both of them.