Since spring of 2020, with the advent of universal lockdowns and an unprecedented expansion of government power over American citizens, safetyism established itself as the new national religion: Sacrifice your freedoms on the altar of safety. Not surprisingly, we wound up with neither. Recently, though, safetyism has evolved into something even more pernicious. I call it comfortism.

Comfortism is the belief that we are entitled to remain unmolested by minor inconveniences or emotional challenges, and that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that comfort, no matter what the cost. We are ready and willing to give up our financial security, our physical health, and our potential for personal growth for this comfort. We are ready to toss aside our capitalist economist system (the foundation of our financial strength) as well as our constitution to guarantee our comfort around what is ultimately inconsequential.

Joe Biden’s State of the Union address exposed this new contract. Rather than focus on the abysmal state of the union and a realistic plan to improve it, he recited a list of new federal government intrusions that will micro-manage our lives and deprive us of real choices. He promised to ban airlines from charging for seat assignments. He promised to ban hotels from charging a resort fee. He promised to ban cable, internet, and cell phone companies from charging us for switching carriers. Really? Are these the major problems Americans face today? Nuisances at worst, they are entirely avoidable when an informed consumer exercises a choice in how he spends his money. Bien, though, has promised to make our lives more comfortable and convenient by empowering the federal government to determine what fees can be charged by private businesses. Of note, he made no promise to reduce the cost of natural gas, which has increased by up to 300% in some parts of the US since the beginning of this year. Comfortism assumes emotional outrage for a $50 airline seat assignment while blaming impoverishing fuel cost increases on the Donald Trump’s presidency…that ended two years ago.

Judy Chen, the owner of the Hop Woo restaurant in Los Angeles Chinatown, received a $13,000 gas bill for the month of January, more than double the month before. After 30 years in operation, this may be the end of Hop Woo, as Chen cannot afford to pay the “shockingly high” energy bills. She is a small business owner, though, someone who doesn’t subscribe to the religion of comfortism. For the comfortists, she is at best irrelevant and at worst a threat to their hegemony. Small businesses are much harder to control than big business. Thank goodness the Biden regime has spared Chen the $50 charge for a seating assignment on her next flight to Hawaii.

I see the effects of comfortism in my private practice, where I work with children, young adults, and families. Government schools have indoctrinated children into adopting narcissistic fantasies elevating their sense of self-importance while diminishing their responsibility for those around them and their communities. No, sushi in the school cafeteria isn’t a God-given right. Neither is an A grade. Feeling shame after acting with poor judgment is not a consequence you are entitled to protection from. Parents reinforce this false entitlement by surrounding their children with metaphorical cushions that provide 24/7 protection from the uncomfortable intrusions of reality that we all must eventually face. A teacher recently told me, “When I started out 20 years ago, parents would ask their children, ‘Why are you failing math?’ Now, they ask me, “Why are you failing my child?’” For young people, comfortism is fed from narcissism and expresses itself through unending entitlement. Parents and teachers act as the federal government, preparing children during the transition period of adolescence for a state of adult dependency on government to cushion the ride through life.

Even the word “comfort” is now being invoked as a rationalization for self-harm and social corrosion. Since the January 30, 2023 publication of the Cochrane Library report that proved irrefutably the utter ineffectiveness of masks (even N95s) of reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses, millions of Americans continue to wear them. The meta-analysis reviewed 78 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from more than 600,000 participants. Here in Los Angeles, though, in 2023, it is not possible to leave your home without seeing people with their faces covered: indoors, outdoors, in cars while alone, riding a bicycle, running on a treadmill at the gym. If you ask them why, the response is often, “It makes me feel more comfortable.” According to Biden, our government schoolteachers, and many parents, that pursuit and expression of comfort represents the highest level of virtue. Pursuing comfort has become a patriotic act. Challenging it is now derided as “fascistic.”

The federal government fully supports the ongoing vandalism of American faces, more so when those faces are of young children. In a February 8, 2023 Congressional hearing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was presented with the Cochrane Library report findings and challenged to defend the continued masking of two-year-olds. She simply replied, “Masking guidance doesn’t change with time.” Our government leaders and the narcissism of American citizens have formed a perfect collusive bond, one feeding the other through an exchange of self-validation and votes.

Even if an individual’s pursuit of comfort weren’t shallow and virtueless on its own, preaching the religion of comfortism, as Biden did in his speech, ensures the destruction of a society. It serves as a distraction from real problems and true evil by redefining simple inconvenience as a crusade to fight. It seduces the worst aspects of the human being—narcissism, greed, sloth—into full expression by redefining them as virtuous and patriotic, all the while blinding our vision to actual existential threats such as open borders, a weak military, contamination of our food and water supply, hyperinflation, sabotage of our energy reserves and distribution systems. We are invited to salivate at the prospect of a cost-free switch from Spectrum to AT&T cable, yet we can no longer afford to pay the monthly bill, because all our available cash has been depleted to keep our homes from freezing and our bodies from starving. Yes, life will be more comfortable temporarily, until it ends abruptly and entirely. That is the inevitable endpoint of comfortism.

I have long told my patients that if they truly desire to get better, they must prepare themselves to be uncomfortable. The reason is simple: There can be no growth without discomfort. Teaching a nation of adults and children that comfort is an end in itself, rather than the product of discipline and sacrifice, is no different than teaching hedonism—that happiness is something you deserve by virtue of being alive, rather than the consequence of achievement, identity, and meaning in one’s life. Both teachings are false, because they are founded on lies. If there is one lesson we should have learned over the past three years, it is that lies are the source of all evil in this world.

Mark McDonald, M.D.
Psychiatrist and author of United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis and Freedom From Fear: A 12 Step Guide to Personal and National Recovery