Culture of Transaction

I can’t imagine that you don’t know by now, but Biden has called on states to offer a $100 incentive for people who get a covid vaccine. A number of states are offering incentives (you should click that link and check out what Hawaii is doing, it’s amazing), including $100 for getting the first shot.

I want to be clear, I am not against this. Whatever we need to do to get people vaccinated must be done. However, as more states start offering incentives, or start considering incentives to get their residents vaccinated, it has made me think about a few things.

At heart, in the United States we have a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of culture. It’s not “help your community” it’s “help yourself.” I call this Toxic Individuality, and it’s something that’s irked me for a long time, and something I’ve brought up in multiple blog posts.

In America, there’s no reward for community.

I believe that American culture sees no reward in a healthy community. Our culture is extremely transactional on an individual level. “I will do this because it helps me. I will vote this way because it helps me.” Not, “I will do this because it helps the community.”

Even church is a transactional experience. People do good or live by a moral code in exchange for personal spiritual salvation, not necessarily because it’s what is good for the health of the cities our country they live in.

Ok…so what?

Right now our communities, our schools, our churches, and our families are in the middle of a pandemic. That pandemic is not waning or getting easier, rather it is infiltrating more of our country, making us more divisive and angry. The past year and a half has made it very clear that the cult of toxic individuality and our culture of transaction is…well…literally killing us.

What we need is a radical change of thinking. Rather than think, “If I get this vaccine, I will get $100”, we need to think “If I get this vaccine, a child that I have never met and do not know may not end up in the ICU.”

I know, it’s not as glamorous. And I KNOW, the $100 and other incentives are very useful for a lot of people. Again, I am not against them.

But $100 won’t be enough to get us out of the mess we are in. We have to start considering the health of our community as the end game. It is not you against the world, it’s all of us against a virus. That’s killing us, it’s leaving lasting impacts on our economy, our children, our future…it’s time to stop pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, and instead help out your neighbor. Do it for no reason. Do it anonymously.

The reward is a better future for everyone – not just for the individual.

By mshipstory


I'm Lindsay Adams. I'm passionate about history, teaching, and writing.

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