A Collective Sneeze Shakes Up Our Philosophy

I was listening to a recording of Ezra Klein’s podcast a few weeks ago, where his interviewee Barbara Ehrenreich contended the shortcomings of the theory of individualism. We’d always relied on communal effort to survive, but in modern times we’ve bet instead on egocentricity, and she wondered if it’s working for us. 

I thought about the COVID-19 and the discussions it will spawn while on its tour de monde. Is the utopian fallacy that we are “independent” being challenged by the glaring proof that one’s misfortune has a domino effect on the rest? 

Are we recalling the wisdom of our ancestors, that we depend on society’s well-being as a whole for our own means of survival? Medicare for all? Paid sick leave?

Last night, in an unprecedented bipartisanship, the coronavirus bill was signed into law. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides free testing for COVID-19 and guarantees paid sick leave to those affected (among other provisions). I didn’t think we’d pass paid leave under a conservative administration, but urgency called for us to combat disaster together.

We may be practicing social distancing, but with 330 million people we need big government to counter this pandemic — and not just to bail out corporations. For all the conservative naysayers who deemed egalitarianism a fantasy, they are begrudgingly discovering that libertarianism is not a realistic path towards human survival. Regardez our system is collapsing around us, and we are scrambling to pass socialized programs other countries have had in place for decades. This is the way forward, but I admit I didn’t always know it myself. 

I was a registered Libertarian voter once in my college years having fallen into the cultish hole of objectivism intrinsic in the books of Ayn Rand. I related with the introverted protagonists of her books that manifested the resolute, heroic spirit in contrast to the silly masses she depicted as ignorant and entitled. There was a latent romanticism in their rebellious antisocial stance that I still sympathize with as an antisocial, socially-involved citizen. But Rand was an émigré from the Soviet Union who denounced government programs like Social Security as an infringement on rights, a hotbed for tyranny. To her the government served only for policing — not for leveling opportunity by curtailing the wealth inequality that causes a rise in crime, not for fixing the for-profit healthcare system that allows for millions of Americans to die.

Atlas Shrugged exalted the individual’s independence without assuming he was interconnected with the rest.

“Egoism is freedom”

“Government needs to keep its hands off the market”

“Greed is good, don’t feel guilty”

This pseudo meritocracy leaves power in the hands of a few and erodes democracy. It also relays a false sense of egoism. Were it not for my natural instinct to empathize, I wouldn’t have reasoned the obvious: We are innately social beings, and it is in our own self interest to care for our neighbor’s welfare.

It is human nature to care. Collectivity should not be elevated to a point of self-sacrifice when it has been our means for survival for all of human history. 

We are interdependent

The logic behind paid leave, reforming our justice system, negotiating prices with pharmaceuticals (and everything else we debated before our minds focused on finding toilet paper) is the idea that balancing the system from the far-right tilt will result in an overall improvement of our lives. i.e. It is not solely the felon who will benefit from criminal justice reform, we too will reap the rewards of a reduction in recidivism and be able to thrive in safer neighborhoods.

We are only as strong as our weakest member

In the U.S. there are 27 million Americans without health insurance. 25% of Americans have delayed treatment of a serious condition due to the financial burden of seeking care. This was of little consequence to some voters before. Now engulfed in the coronavirus crisis, does socializing healthcare sound so ridiculous if our own well-being depends on our neighbor’s financial ability to receive care?

33 million of Americans don’t have paid sick leave. Is it ridiculous to pass paid leave so that a sick restaurant employee can stay home from work instead of handling our food?

It was never ridiculous, but the status quo is too stiff to upend; it requires an apocalypse. Someone got sick in Wuhan, and it has reverberated around the globe. There is no denying how much globalisation has connected us even further. This virus might be our wakeup call. 

Holed up in our homes we might be forced to introspection. Maybe we cultivate our long forgotten passions and switch careers. Maybe we agree working remotely is smarter and we can spend more time with our loved ones. Maybe we will start to shop local, grow our own food. Maybe we warm up to a better healthcare system. We’ll have time to reflect on what our needs are as a human race, and I hope we find it. For now, virtual hugs are in order — America, you passed paid leave! Sort of. For now.

Muscovado

Perched on the sleepy rue Sedaine a few blocks from the bustling Bastille, Muscovado stole my heart with it’s delicious Belleville coffee served in bright red cups. The cafe is owned by two sisters from the Philippines, Quina and Francine (one a former pastry chef), serving healthy meals and tasty desserts for breakfast and lunch. The menu varies each day, some have an international flair like the breakfast burrito or the Cuban sandwich, but the ingredients are always fresh.

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I took a break from shopping during the latter part of the afternoon for a coffee and a strawberry salad – which was just the right amount of sweet.

 

Summer Spot: OFF Paris Seine

 

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There’s an aura of coolness surrounding the first floating hotel in Paris – and it’s the novelty of introducing a unique setting in a city that thought its seen it all.

Docked at the river Seine, the boat/catamaran or otherwise hotel overlooks the steel bridge where metro line 5 passes every few minutes – a very artistic trend nowadays that mixes modern luxury with a plebeian scenery.  The hotel itself looks like a rectangular warehouse smothered in wooden window blinds keeping it’s sleek interior space private, until you cross the ramp and walk into the stunning bar.

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The bar is cut in half by an open deck showcasing a long plunge pool that seems to go onto the river (an infinity pool illusion). Theres’s certainly an attractive business slash hipster ambiance what with the golden swan floatie hanging out on the pool and the musical playlist. I had a glass of rosé and enjoyed the warm summer breeze by the pool, happy to note the place wasn’t as crowded since most Parisians are on vacation in August. If you’re in Paris, don’t miss this place!

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The beauty of Étretat

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageI tend to visit Étretat every time I crave a quiet moment away from the Parisian bustle. This time I wanted to disconnect from the social media sphere and I even wrote a story about it for The Style Line. You can read the story here.

Étretat is about a 2-hour drive from Paris in the region of Normandy. This beautiful gem should make it on every nature lover’s bucket list. There are spectacular views at the top of the cliffs lining the sea shore, and I even went kayaking through the caves and hiked up the hills.

I took the roadtrip with two friends – one of them Veronicka who happens to be a nature photographer and is traveling Europe this month all the way from Seattle. I spent slightly scowling her to keep from tip-toeing on the edges of the slippery cliffs. Luckily we made it to ground-level with all our body parts in tact. (If your eyes need a breather browse her Instagram feed @veronichkaaa). We never know when we’ll be hit by inspiration, but when it hits, we should reap energy from it. All her travels have inspired me to go on my own. Therefore, stay tuned. Travel adventures coming soon in July!

A stylish brunch at Hardware Société

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Photos by Ketevan Giorgadze IG: @katie.one

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Perched at the top of the steps of Montmartre is the Australian restaurant Hardware Société bringing it’s Melbourne flair for brunching to a space decorated by black and white tiles, marble top tables and colorful golden rimmed coffee cups – a blogger’s dream café.

Though I can’t say I enjoyed the climb up the stairs (it’s next to the Sacre Coeur Basilica), the quiet neighborhood was an oasis in the typically polluted streets of Paris.

I went up with my friend Katie (whose photos I shared) and ordered from the tempting menu. A flat white, a plate of roasted mushroom with poached eggs on a bed of cheese and toast, an egg casserole (fries mixed with chorizo and eggs) and a raspberry pastry. It’s worth climbing the stairway to heaven!

 

 

Aloha Café

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There’s a tropical paradise hidden in the midst of Pigalle by name of Aloha Café. The newest addition to the coffee scene in Paris has the freshest bites to eat with a Hawaiian motif. In pastel-colored ceramic plates are served blueberry scones, sandwiches and even quinoa tabbouleh with a menu changing every week.

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I stopped by for a latte in a pink cup, but the interior design and the service was so wonderful I’m already a regular. It’s a lovely place to spend the day among palm tree wallpaper and bouquets of fresh peonies.

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Visit: http://www.alohacafe.paris/

 

Magnum ice cream in Paris

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I’ve been hearing quite a lot about the new Magnum ice cream shop that opened in Paris, so I passed by Le Marais to get a taste. It’s not your typical ice cream bar on a stick, you design your own ice cream. Mine was vanilla inside, dipped in milk chocolate then sprinkled with three flavors of pearl-like beads.

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IMG_1436It’s no wonder they’re marketing this to fashion girls – the likes of Kendall Jenner and Suki Waterhouse being ambassadors for the brand. The ice cream is a jewel! #ReleasetheBeast IMG_1376