The event made quite an impression. A pal’s sixth birthday party, and something did not go his way. His desires were thwarted. So, he threw himself face down on the living room floor, pounding it with his fists and kicking it with his feet while screaming bloody murder.
There comes a moment in each of our lives – cosmic considerations notwithstanding – when we realize we are not the center of a universe revolving around us to do our bidding.
Well, at least most of us realize that. An epidemic of infantilism has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. Not a good look for a six-year-old, tantrums are particularly ugly for 3,899 unruly adult airline passengers reported to the Federal Aviation Administration this year.
We’ve seen the videos of passengers swinging at flight attendants (knocking out teeth) or getting taped to their seats. Some flights have landed early to deplane offenders into local custody. Last month, the FAA announced that fines this year have topped a million dollars.
Not surprisingly, according to the FAA, 2,867 reports of disturbed and disturbing passengers involved their refusal “to comply with the federal facemask mandate.”
This is not the “Federal Facemask Airport Surprise.” The mask mandate is public knowledge. You know it applies when you buy your ticket. To go ballistic after boarding the plane reflects a “I don’t wanna” child-development deficiency more appropriate to the “terrible twos.”
Screaming when they can’t get their way? Self-entitled jerks? Brats becoming bullies?
They have learned their lesson well from the unreasoning of a twice-impeached former president, who made belligerent incivility as mainstream as overt bigotry.
He and his red state goobernatorial disciples have fought any actions that might save lives since COVID-19 arrived on our shores. Putting the “ignore” in ignorance, they have demanded a normalcy unbefitting abnormal times.
Unfortunately, many constituents, emboldened by their leaders, are eager to embrace their own inner childishness, especially if they can make a buck. So, we have:
• county fairs, rodeos and hospitals running out of ICU beds;
• no attendance restrictions at sporting events, tailgating and obituaries swamping news columns;
• anti-mask/anti-vax protests and school quarantines, isolation and closings;
• super-spreader events and their resulting casualties.
Apparently their childish egoism includes the notion that what you can’t see (like a microscopic virus) doesn’t exist. If things look normal, well, things must be all right. (“Peek-a-boo, Baby Blue.”) Fudge the death statistics. Scream: “Free! Dumb!”
Aristotle is cited often for saying that humans are rational animals. Actually, he points out that we have both rational and irrational sides. We must choose to be rational.
Too often we see rationalizations of childish selfishness substituted for rationality. Some me-firsters claim a religious prophylactic to COVID-19. (“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”) Others say a vaccine would contain a tracking device – while toting cell phones to bed, bath and the great beyond.
And, infected by leaders who don’t care if they live, die or endanger loved ones, science deniers refuse science-generated vaccines (that their leaders have taken) in favor of malarial medicine, bleach, strategically applied flashlighting and now horse de-worming medicine.
Through vociferousness, threats of violence and actual assaults, the irrationalists demonstrate the immaturity that Aristotle cites when saying young people should not study political science because “they are led by their feelings.”
And Aristotle, being Aristotle, he explains: “And it makes no difference whether they are young in years or immature in character: the defect is not a question of time, it is because their life and its various aims are guided by feeling, for to such persons their knowledge is of no use, any more than it is to persons of defective self-restraint.”
Defective self-restraint? Guided by feelings? Immature in character?
That’s the true Trump legacy: childishness and churlishness.