Give me liberty and give me death?

With due apologies to Patrick Henry, but this seems to be the rallying cry for a lot of the citizenry in the country today. Perhaps a bit biased toward those who wear red caps exhorting the country to revert to its previous greatness, before it was corrupted by, you know — the foreigners, the Jewish diaspora, people of color, people from LatAm, those seeking asylum. You know the greatness of the times when women weren’t allowed to vote, or perhaps when blacks were possessions to be bought and sold, or when Japanese citizens could be interned as a threat to national security. Maybe they long for the time when LGBTQ people were firmly kept locked up in their closets, and it was fun to sexually assault those weaker than you with impunity, knowing fully well that they had few rights or recourse to get redressal.

But I digress.

This piece is not about the banality and venality of the MAGA promise.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a rant so bear with me. This is about the obsession so many in America have with their notion of personal freedom and liberty. How well intended precepts propounded by the founding fathers have been so corrupted and misappropriated by politicians and the average citizen alike, in circumstances that they are barely relevant anymore, and if anything, are going to lead to mayhem and loss.

I have no problem with your personal freedom and ability to live your life as you see fit. As long as it doesn’t impinge on my own right to good health and safety. If you choose to skydive without a parachute, I would wonder (only for a moment) at your genepool and hope that you hadn’t pro-created yet. But other than, I’d respect your right to live and die as you please. As long as you didn’t drag someone else out of the plane with you.

Because that is what the current cry for freedom and the demand to be able to live ‘normally’ is tantamount to. If your actions didn’t have an exponential ripple effect for the rest of the population, by all means do what you desire to court disaster with the coronavirus. But when your actions put not only yourself at risk, but are likely to result in deleterious health outcomes for the community around you, you don’t have that right anymore. I absolutely respect the desire of those in financial dire straits to be able to go back to work and earn a living, feed their family and take care of their needs in general. That is a legitimate want, and arguably, it makes the decisions for our leaders in public health and government that much harder — the familiar ‘lives vs livelihood’ debate. But it’s just plain irresponsible and callous of those who are willing to actively infect others in their community just to exercise their right to cavort in large groups at beaches or pubs, are unwilling to wear masks, unable to accept any limitations at all on their own freedom of movement.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, by leaders and citizens alike. Unfortunately, when we are led by a retrograde, apathetic, narcissistic President who considers it a show of weakness to even be seen wearing a mask, it is hard to expect much more from his followers — you know, the ones in the red caps.