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Headed for the Brink 

Taking a Gander: Evolution May Give Us a Smarter World

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Let's face it. Americans are known, throughout the world, as a bunch of rebels—ones who refuse to follow the rules, and yet require others to follow theirs.

And why not? Though we're still a very young nation, our country has assumed the rather narcissistic role of controlling everyone else on our planet. It has eliminated troublesome leaders, at will, persecuted its own whistle-blowers, and has meddled with the political futures of virtually all the world's regions.

Bullying has become an American tradition—one which rejects the rights of others in order to benefit our own selfish needs. Like a petulant child, the U.S. has asserted its rights at the expense of anything or anyone who gets in its way, and, much like a little toddler squirming from the arms of a parent, it embodies the traditional, somewhat nonsensical, complaint, "You're not the boss of me." The reality is that everyone has a boss. And our country, despite its historical sense of entitlement, is no exception.

It seems Americans have a hard time understanding that a smoothly-functioning world requires an element of oversight and enforcement. That bad-boy error in thinking is something that's been cultivated by a long line of presidential administrations that failed to grasp the reality—that Americans need leadership and rules, hopefully without dashing their illusion of rabid personal independence.

Today, consistent with their historical renegade mentality, Americans continue to show their sense of autonomy. That independence has been largely centered on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution—and particularly on the NRA's claims that carrying an AK-47 is a God-given entitlement and that any attempt to limit gun ownership is the voice of Lucifer. Just ask Rep. Lauren Boebert of Rifle, Colorado. She'll tell you that carrying guns is God's way, and that intelligent firearm regulations would be part of the devil's plan. My guess is that if you were to survey Utah's Mormublicans, that would be the predominant belief.

Now, there's another cause for the muscle-flexing, testosterone-oozing purveyors of what can best be described as the American lie—wherein individual rights are oh-so protected as to make our country a permanently hazardous place for the rest of us.

With the rise of the COVID pandemic, we are, once again, faced with how to balance the needs of the rebels with the welfare of society as a whole.

Vaccine opponents are doing their best to keep COVID alive and well. After all, COVID can't survive if it's deprived of host organisms, and anti-vaxxers are making sure that there are plenty of hosts. (Marjorie Taylor Green was just kicked off Facebook for her vaccination misinformation campaign.)

Fed by irresponsible trash media, power-hungry politicians, Tucker Carlson and the self-serving hypocritical leaders—who surreptitiously get vaccinated while, at the same time, telling their followers that vaccination is a matter of individual choice—they are determined to put their countrymen at risk. Case in point: Trump himself got his vaccine while encouraging noncompliance among his followers. The buffoon tried, and was largely successful, in making stupidity not only acceptable, but respectable, while preaching to his ignorant base that receiving the vaccine was only for chickens and that getting protected was an evidentiary mark of Republican disloyalty

With only half of all Americans actually vaccinated, our country is a breeding ground for continued outbreaks and the development of possibly more-dangerous variants. Statistics tell the story, and Utahns are among the states with the lowest two-dose vaccination rate—44%. Only 19 out of 50 states have a poorer record, and most of those are the poverty-stricken, under-educated ones in the deep South. Sadly, the line between the vaxxers and anti-vaxxers is one defined by politics, not sense. The numbers speak for themselves: Where the Trumpublican Party is strong and deluded followers are flying their "Don't Tread on Me" flags and still donning their red MAGA hats, the consequences of stupidity are threatening the public health of our nation and our world.

That doesn't actually mean that these people are not the brightest bulbs on the tree, but it certainly suggests that people are horrifyingly short-sighted in calculating the effects of their actions. Of course, one of the great impediments to ending the threat of COVID is the intentional misinformation campaign, launched and perpetuated by the followers of Trump and his favorite purveyors of the lie.

Though FOX News has recently backed down from its staunch anti-vaccination rhetoric, there are still a few wildly-popular public personalities preaching the doctrine of death. And the hotbeds of stupidity—like Texas, Florida, and Arizona—continue to toy with people's minds and seriously endanger public health.

But take heart, folks. The result of this isn't really so bad. In the end, Charles Darwin will be smiling, because evolution, with its central theme of survival of the fittest—and the smartest—will give the world an intellectually superior population. And believe me, a large percentage of the self-absorbed, numb-skull Trumpublicans won't be among those left breathing.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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