Sorry, We’re Open

To put it mildly, COVID-19 has put a strain on the world and its citizens. Whether it’s dealing with the virus itself, the stress of dealing with a new normal we hadn’t anticipated, having to spend more time inside than Boo Radley, or wondering how we will pay the bills with so many places shut down, we are all on edge. This tension has been heightened by recent actions and reactions from the government and the governed.

Let’s look at Michigan, for example. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has used COVID-19 as a way to shut down some businesses and keep others open under the auspices of what was considered essential. Once news started coming out about what was considered essential (selling lottery tickets) and what wasn’t (being able to buy car seats for children, which is a state requirement in Michigan), people started getting angry, leading to armed, but peaceful, protesters surrounding the state capitol building. Similar acts of civil disobedience also occurred from California to Florida.

The Left tells us the protesters are a public health threat and some have even called them terrorists (usually with the totally non-racist descriptor “white” in front of it). The Right tells us the government is overreaching in an attempt to use COVID-19 as a means to grab up more of our rights with no expectation of giving any of them back, not to mention cripple the economy to give Democrats a better chance of defeating President Donald Trump in November. So, who’s right?

They both are. They’re also both wrong.

This is an uncomfortable position for me as someone who not only sees COVID-19 as a legitimate medical threat, but also sees government overreach as a threat. Trying to reconcile the scientific facts and my libertarian leanings has been harder than Bill Clinton on a Viagra bender at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch after Hillary buys it (and I’m not talking cattle futures). Here’s where my head’s at.

COVID-19 isn’t a seasonal cold, nor a variation on that theme. It’s a virus we haven’t dealt with sufficiently yet, so we’re having to play catch-up. And we’re not doing a great job of it. I am someone in a high-risk category for various health reasons, so I take the warnings very seriously since I have a vested interest in avoiding contracting it. Beyond that, however, I feel a responsibility to my fellow citizens not to spread it if I can help it. It may be uncomfortable and keep me feeling hotter than a ghost pepper, but I wear a mask when I go into stores and other high-traffic areas if only to avoid having to deal with the guilt I’d feel if there was a chance I spread COVID-19 to someone else.

Yet, I cant sit by and agree that every government action is done with the best of intentions. Governor Whitmer alone has been an example of what Leftists do when they’re given limitless power. Other government officials from governors to local politicians have undercut the Constitution under the guise of protecting people. As much as these bureaucratic weasels want us to believe even being out in a public park while practicing social distancing will make COVID-19 spread like wildfire, the fact remains the survival rate is still in the high 90% range. Even if it’s asymptomatic, it’s not a definite death sentence and certainly not if you’re not in a high-risk group. Funny how the self-professed “Party of Science” ignores the actual science here.

Being a small-l libertarian, I have a general rule of thumb: leave me and my rights alone, and I’ll do the same for you. Even with COVID-19, I adhere to that. But with rights and power there are responsibilities, and both sides of the shutdown controversy have forgotten this. Yes, the Constitution says we have the right to peaceably assemble, but with what we don’t know about COVID-19, it’s important we assemble peaceably and safely. And, yes, we have to watch out for our fellow human beings, but enforcing the letter of the law to the point of absurdity isn’t helping anyone get or stay healthy.

The problem is we as a society don’t think on so grand a scale. We are stuck in the moment and what we want at any given time, regardless of who gets hurt in the process. Why else would there be a run on toilet paper when COVID-19 is a respiratory virus? Simple. People didn’t care about anyone but themselves. Although looking out for number one may seem good in the short term, it almost always backfires in the long run. Good luck with your 43 jumbo packs of toilet paper you can’t return. Hope you can find a use for all of it. One, maybe two trips to Chipotle?

So, maybe there is a middle ground to be had, but it’s going to take a lot of work on ourselves and society. You want to really help medical personnel right now? Don’t put yourself in harm’s way if at all possible. Exercise a bit of caution in public, and exercise your freedom of expression to let your elected officials know how you feel. Then, take care of yourselves and look out for others. A sense of community will go much further than armed protests and overbearing laws in ending the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Author: Thomas

I'm a writer and a ranger and a young boy bearing arms. And two out of the three don't count.

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