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Health: The New First World Problem for White, Black and Brown Americans

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

In enlightened minds, health has become a possession to acquire, the same as another TV the size of a living room wall or the finest diamond, emerald cut. Only those deemed selfish, shallow types believe it’s appropriate to have abundant health in America for its white, black and brown citizens. The reality that other countries suffer poor health is contorted into a belief prism that has as much logic as “clean your dinner plate because of all the starving people in Africa.” Following faulty logic, such full-time consumers and part-time philosophers declare the American lifestyle robbery. The slogan, “First world problems,” is a mandatory incantation to follow every sentence uttered, especially those sentences spoken without paying homage to an approved cause.


The sick mental prism - self-hating, self-shaming - has been borne within our culture and transmitted through movies, books, academia, work settings and all other gatherings. This philosophy now says that first world problems include being spared a deadly pandemic. This philosophy says our president was bigoted for closing travel from China and Italy. After all, let’s step off from our high horses – It’s not fair! It’s not equal! Who are we to be spared when those in China and Italy are suffering?  Many of us bask in our homes, our chosen careers, and spouses or single lives. Who the hell are we to have good health too?

The virus is literal living proof that the fashionable style of altruism is suicidal. Just as circumstances don’t make a man, but reveal him, this pandemic is revealing us. Our unwillingness to prioritize us over the rest of the world is communicated through our responses to this virus. Many of us believe there is no such thing as self-protection and only protection. Imagine sibling children on a neighborhood street who want to paint all of the houses and not just their own. They rage as their parents buy only enough paint for one home, not twenty homes.

On the chopping block is the belief that we are entitled to a baseline level of health. That such a baseline includes the continued absence of once eradicated diseases such as polio and tuberculosis now make us as indulgent as the housewives of reality TV in the wise eyes of our globalist brothers and sisters. Ultimately, mental martyrdom pondered in living rooms doesn’t just kill. First, it matriculates and creates a nation full of people without the concept of self-protection on a household level as well as a national one – and then kills.


As children, we were taught to lock the front door before sitting down to dinner. Though inviting others in was normal, this was not to be done while others were sick with something contagious, for the reason that self-protection came first. We were also taught that while there was abundant food at the dinner table, inviting hungry strangers to sit at the table and share dinner was not possible, though sheets were ample on nice beds, heat or air conditioning on, strangers were not to partake in the home resources. The borders of doors and windows were enforced. At some point, children understood that caring and helping others was one matter, and caring for oneself, family and immediate household was another completely separate matter.

Today, self-care has a schizophrenic existence.  On the one hand, we have a tour of celebrity homes and all the display of trips, boat, cars, jewelry, bodies, and clothes. Yet, at the same time, from the same mouths, we are told that first world problems are shameful and we must yield to those from other countries, no matter what.

Like actions, beliefs have consequences. Behavior follows beliefs. While we very well may rebuild after this CCP virus, unless we rebuild our belief system and make it socially permissible to believe in protecting our country first, we are doomed to reap the consequences of the same, recycled behaviors that allowed this pandemic, the resurrection of “a polio-like illness” and TB to secure their places on American soil. It is the practice of personal responsibility to protect oneself and loved ones from people with illness or other problems. Self-protection and compassion are not mutually exclusive. If neighbors are dishonest about intention and even their physical condition, then we have an obligation to close our doors and implement a domestic policy that matches what they bring. This obligation has nothing to do with bigotry vs. enlightenment – rather just a basic following of the tenants of self-preservation, including the Pursuit of Happiness.


Pamela Garber is a private practice therapist in NY and has been published in trade journals and professional publications.

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