Approaching the fear of a quantifiable threat while pursuing life, liberty and happiness.
COVID-19 is real and social distancing is the right idea, authoritarianism is not.
We, as a society, need to slow down, reflect and understand the harm we are creating which can, and will, be just as bad for society as a whole. This may ruffle feathers and hurt some feelings, but it hits at the core of the unintended consequence of government force. It is for this exact moment in time that I, and millions of liberty minded individuals across the country, are constantly relentless about even the smallest of human rights infringements.
Right now there are large bands of people calling to the “authorities” about their neighbors continuing their normal lives begging, “Arrest them!” We have elected officials telling the citizenry to, “call the cops” on their neighbors. We have normal skeptics of big government clamoring on about, “the governor said we’ve been ordered” so we must. We even have police breaking social distancing guidelines to hand out tickets and make arrests of otherwise peacefully assembled, nonviolent, people. As an example: A man in California, all alone, with not a single human soul around, who could not possibly have been endangering anybody, paddleboarding in the ocean and then suddenly surrounded by, some not so socially distant, police. He was subsequently brought to a not so socially distant jail and most likely processed in a not so socially distant manner. He is now facing criminal charges and could potentially have his life ruined, yet has not harmed a single soul, let alone society. It is at this moment that it must be made clear these bands of society are not acting much different from past societies.
Understand that as I write this, my daughter and I are medically separated from her mother, my wife, for God knows how long. This is due to my wife, her mother and her brother battling the virus at the same local hospital using her mother’s home as their base, and quarantine center. I understand the severity of the virus and we are taking the appropriate, though mildly inconvenient, actions. None of the above justifies the use of government force and violence against our otherwise peaceful neighbors for any reason.
In every similar scenario from the past 400 years, from the Salem Witch trials to the internment of Asian Americans during WW2, the reaction of the public was deemed the “socially responsible” thing to do, by the overwhelming majority of the population and government officials of the time. This was especially true in the beginning of each. That is where we are now, the beginning, a stage of unknown, a stage of fear, a stage of widespread misinformation and confusion, a stage different from anything we have ever experienced in the past. Or is it?
It was said that then, as many are claiming now, the “greater community” was more important, more informed and knew better than individuals that were “endangering the community”. People were told to report “offenders”. It was said that those involved did not understand the risks involved in their actions and that they were a detriment to the “safety of the community”. Over time people woke up, turned the tables and forced a course correction through judicial rulings, revolt, constitutional amendment, law, and reparation.
As a supposedly educated society, we should be aware of the history and the actions that led to these societal disasters. The fact that we cannot, or will not, make the connection makes me question our only 100+ year old education system, more so now than ever. Yes, we need to tackle COVID-19 and protect the vulnerable, I couldn’t agree more. However alienating, what are, inalienable basic rights (i.e. peaceful assembly, due process, privacy, self-defense, private property) is not the way to do it. If you knowingly have COVID-19 and you assemble it’s not peaceful, therefore then, and only then, you may be prosecuted. Although, you do still have a right to due process, self-defense, and to not have your private property used as a government holding place. However, if you’ve been in your house for 2 weeks, have no symptoms and decide to open your business, impose strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines, in an effort to provide sustenance for your family, jail and fines are no longer about COVID-19. It is here that we must start to understand that the overwhelming majority does not want to harm society by spreading this virus and will voluntarily act responsibly to help cull it’s spread.
The mandatory lock downs and the ostracizing actions of our government and neighbors can, and most likely will, lead to a more divided and devastated community than solely the virus itself. Let us also remember that among us are groups of silent and unseen victims. We want mandatory business closings, public gatherings to be prohibited and violators to be prosecuted. Yet we fail to think about those who rely on these businesses and gatherings for sanity, safety, and security. These places are essential to their survival. There are large segments of society that depend on human interaction to find refuge from the evils they may be facing. From the clinically depressed to the substance-dependent, to those suffering domestic abuse, their saving grace is the actual human contact of these businesses and group gatherings; the love and compassion they receive is, more often than not, the difference between life and death. These life-saving connections and feelings simply cannot be felt over a digital line of communication. Forgotten are, the mothers, or fathers, that we’ve forced to lose their jobs and were already struggling to provide for their families, mired in debt, who see no way out and choose to exit this life; the senior whose retirement just went up in smoke, because we forced a shutdown of the economy, that are lost for ideas on how to survive moving forward, fearful of poverty and starvation with no family left, or near-by, to help; the spouse, or child, whose job, church, or school provides them the protection they no longer have from their abuser, or gives them a place to safely report their pain and suffering.
These are the unforeseen consequences of authoritarian control over the economy and life. The rationalizing of one fear for society over another leads to these moments. I understand that the pandemic is scary and life threatening, I am clearly attempting to lead by example with the extent to which my family is practicing our social distancing. However, I wish for my neighbors to simply understand, yes we must be safe and smart, but no we are not aware of how to best protect others or even, what it is that may be most threatening to them. No amount of force will calm all fears or protect all people. Many decisions made in a centralized manner will only trade one life for another. We must not tread lightly but rather not tread at all. I want my neighbors to remember that an educated society must not repeat the mistakes of the past, rather learn from them and apply the lessons to best allow freedom and cohesion, and to persuasively guide our neighbors through moments of danger and fear.
If we want to see how lock downs are not 100% necessary, and potentially more harmful than good, look to the nations like South Korea. They have far less red tape and government restriction there and it is proving to be the gold star example of how to handle the pandemic. There have been countless reports of how they have approached the pandemic. And though, yes, their system of regulations for testing, supplies and hospital availability are far less restrictive, there is no reason we cannot learn, adjust and move forward in a matter more consistent with who we are as Americans. A free people of independent will, self-determination and cultural complexity primed to thrive without coercion, free from tyranny with the best opportunity for life, liberty, and happiness.