In Disruptive Waves Part 1, I discussed the concept of disruptive waves and the damage they cause to our environment, mental wellbeing, and disease recovery. Now, let us look at how to solve this dilemma.
Why is it getting worse? What can we do? We need to understand why we are in this situation and look at accountability and culture as possible causes.
So why are we here with new cases rising in some states? It is true that the disruptive waves have overwhelmed us. We see symptoms and aberrant behavior normally associated with PTSD. While PTSD usually comes from experiencing a severe traumatic event, COVID-19’s produces an ongoing barrage of smaller disruptive waves over a longer period of time. It is like a series of medium waves tearing away the beach over time. A few waves do not seem to cause much damage however, over time they can cause significant damage.
It is interesting how the US government is managing this slow, steady drip of disruptive waves from COVID-19. People get into arguments over insignificant issues in the streets as tempers flare showing their inability to cope with the situation. Some people call it COVID-19 fatigue. I believe it is more insidious and can have a lasting effect on society and our ability to manage the disease. We have not been able to adapt to our new abnormal in the US.
We see fragmented plans as states try to stop disease spread. The US is not working as one. What is interesting is there are different cultures in states that drive different behaviors and result in different approaches to manage the disease. We also see fragmented cultures in cities as they work separately on their own to combat the disease. The culture in the US is fragmented into many pieces and that results in difficulty in trying to manage programs to stop its spread. It is almost as though we are working against one another. Some states are closing their borders to people coming from high risk countries and states. This leads to more fragmentation.
It appears that the US has a culture of individuality and “ME” instead of a culture of “WE” that works together in unison. In the US, no one is accountable for the whole and we see state and local governments struggle to manage the disease in different ways. What if you were a patient in a hospital with a heart problem and every doctor and nurse wanted to treat you differently? You would not live long even though each medical provider thought they were right. Managing health issues and emergencies needs to be managed together as a team. Emergency departments have a very unique culture enabling them to work as one.
Is culture that important to in our recovery? Let us compare the US to another country with another culture.
New Zealand has done a good job in managing the disease compared to the US. NZ manages COVID-19 across its entire country while the US is fragmented in its approach. NZ works as one while the US focuses on individuality. NZ has a hive mentality for the benefit of the whole as the US exhibits a lone wolf mentality for the benefit of the one. New Zealand leadership is direct in telling people what to do and the people follow. Disturbances are there but minimal as compared to the US.
In the US, many people express individuality as their freedom which works in many cases, but not during a pandemic assault on our country. The US culture is so different and direct approaches do not work. I have heard, “The government is not going to tell me what to do” and with an attitude. Why is this?
NZ is a culture of “WE”, acceptance, and forgiveness. Even the Maori are integrated into NZ culture.
US is a culture of “ME”, stubbornness, and blame. Factions of race, age, gender, etc. Native Americans are not integrated into the US culture further demonstrating a fragmented culture.
NZ and US are almost cultural opposites.
NZ’ers “embrace” cultural differences and absorb them living happily as one.
US’ers “celebrate” differences thinking one is better than the other and live in a constant fight trying to prove it or be better than the other. The US has taught us competitive behaviors since we were children further emphasizing it is about ME as being better and not WE living in harmony.
Our culture of “ME” and individuality is hindering our ability to recover from COVID-19. Many blame government leadership for this and it is true that culture starts and is supported by leadership in government and business. However, we are all accountable for the culture we create in the US. Each one of us is responsible. So, in reality, the government AND the people are really accountable for the current situation in the US. No pointing fingers since the culture we created belongs to each one of us.
A cultural shift is needed to combat this disease. When we learn to work together as individuals and leaders, we may be able to weave a culture of “WE”. As “WE”, we can fight this disease quicker.
A culture of learning and sharing is needed. We need to learn from those that have contained the disease better. If we knew how and why a state or city is containing the spread better, we should capture that knowledge and share it throughout the US. Centralized control is needed from federal government to manage knowledge instead of state managed control. We need a unified US program that reaches out locally and manages/guides centrally. Governors fighting with Mayors on what to do is ludicrous as is a President threatening Governors.
A culture of “WE” that works together is needed for the US to manage this disease and the next disease or catastrophe that hits us. All of us need to embrace that … government leaders and each one of us in the US. Cultural transformation is a difficult thing to do and requires our top leaders to recognize it and help us shift our thinking and behaviors during this troubling time. WE own it and WE can fix it if WE want to.
Culture is at the core of everything and WE create our culture.