Most people hate flying. What’s to like? It’s a day-long gauntlet of tedious security screenings, overpriced microwavable meals and constant waiting. First, you wait to get your tickets. Then, you wait to get on the plane. Next, you wait for the plane to get onto a runway – unless Harrison Ford comes ploughing into your economy grade seat on his private plane. That ends your wait pretty quickly.
It would be funny if it wasn’t true, but as of this morning, Han Solo is now being investigated for narrowly missing crashing his private plane into a crowded passenger jet because he accidentally touched down on the wrong airport strip. That near miss might appear to be the simple result of a harmless, momentary lapse in judgement – but it still faces serious investigation by the authorities.
Donald Trump, however? He’s done his fair share of endangering Americans during his short term in office with his steamroller approach to diplomacy and his tweets about “trade wars” with China (not to mention his apparently laissez-faire attitude toward the use of nuclear weapons), but the laws of the land aren’t interested.
So if you zoom out for a bit of context, Harrison Ford and his close call actually fit snugly in to this odd sort of amoebic collage that has totally eclipsed and replaced America’s collective sense of responsibility and moral integrity.
America has always styled itself as the world’s leading source of moral fibre. It’s the place where modern democracy was perfected, prejudice is seemingly unwelcome and the personal freedoms of any and all are quite literally enshrined in stone.
At least that’s how it looks if you’re already living the lush life on top of that particular ivory tower. But from where everyone else on the planet is sitting, it’s become increasingly clear that America is in the early throes of a phenomenally erratic quarter-life crisis.
The country has become so polarised that any sense of collective identity has all but dissipated – and our sterling moral compass appears to have been tossed out the window with it.
There were plenty of early warning signs. Over the course of the last year, Americans have endured mass rejections of their civil rights, seen centuries-old treaties torn in half in the name of profit, suffered further industrial decline and witnessed the country’s most horrific mass shooting in history.
Now, a lot of nations would react to that sort of trauma with a series of swift, decisive actions designed to get everybody back on track and re-establish some sort of moral equilibrium. But over in America, defining trials and tribulations are being met with nothing but unabashed apathy. As a country, we just don’t seem to know or care where we’re heading as a collective unit. Pair that with misplaced middle class anger and a healthy dose of white privilege we all like to pretend doesn’t exist, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
That’s why a significant minority of voters elected an orange bigot who grabs women “by the pussy” to sit in the Oval Office, and it’s also why Republicans refuse to investigate Donald Trump’s alleged links to the Russian state.
It’s why nobody seems to care that government agencies tasked with our protection have been commanded to go silent, and why a woman who believes guns should be tossed in rooms with children in order to prevent bear attacks has been handed the keys to America’s education system.
People are mad, and a slim majority of Americans don’t like what’s been happening – yet for whatever reason, our premier coping mechanism has become a constant refrain of “who cares?”
We’re all dealing with these feelings in different ways. We complain about Donald Trump’s bigotry in passing like the British moan about the weather. We share political satire and SNL clips on social media, and then toast to a job well done. Others take their private planes for a ride and, when landing in the wrong place, end up getting investigated – while the President goes scot-free.
Look at it any way you want, but America is at a crucial junction in its history. We’re in the middle of a frightening sociological transformation, and nobody seems to know how to react or what to do about it. There’s no rhyme or reason to it – this is just the way cookies crumble.
But if Americans truly want to establish some sort of level playing field and emerge from the ashes of this colossal identity crisis with even the faintest trace of a collective moral code, they’d better go back to basics and lose the apathetic tone. After all, there’s a whole lot more at stake here than Han Solo’s piloting license.
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