Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty – Thomas Jefferson.
20 deaths reported yesterday in Los Angeles County. Compared to the peak day of 81 deaths in one day – it is a relief. But at the same time, that number represents 20 individuals lost. And we should all feel compassion for their families who are now mourning. Declining number of cases does give me a sense of hope – even though I realize that each death demonstrates that it’s not over.
Thomas Jefferson warned that every generation would have to be vigilant in order to remain free. The current debate between follow the health experts versus reopen the economy has presented us with a unique challenge within the American experiment of democracy.
Either side could actually use the Jefferson quote readily.
One side would argue that the restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly is a clear violation of Constitutional Rights and that people need to be vigilant to guard against a police state.
The other side would argue that in order to preserve our nation’s future, we must make individual sacrifices to collectively combat a virus that has the capacity to wipe out millions of people. We must reject reckless actions in order to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
Only in my great country could two sides posture themselves engaged in a battle of ideas while the conflagration roars on all around us.
So be it.
I am a moderate. A bit more comfortable in the middle of the road. Each side has valid points. Yet neither side has all the answers. I am uncomfortable with zealotry whether it be religious fanatics or hard core partisans. And you know what they say about persons who walk down the middle of the road? They often end up as road kill.
But to me – I am going to hold two schools of thought simultaneously which seem to be in contradiction with each other. I do believe that we must take all necessary actions to prevent the spread of contagion while simultaneously leaving our self imposed caves and re entering community.
To those who would argue that these restrictions on freedom are unconstitutional – remember that on constitutional rights – there are no absolutes. You cannot falsely scream “fire” in a crowded theater and then say Freedom of Speech. You cannot purchase an unregistered firearm and then say Right to Bear Arms. You cannot commit animal sacrifice on an altar and then say Freedom of Religion. Each Constitutional right has some limitations meant to protect We The People. And the same is true here. You cannot rally together without facial coverings to prevent the spread of disease during a period of contagion. You cannot injure others and rely on the Constitution as your defense.
To those who would argue that we must continue to cower in our homes until a vaccine or treatment is discovered or that we must avoid all human contact, all human intimacy, all human interaction until we are on top of this virus – there are no absolutes here either. We have learned to live with pathogens in our midst throughout recorded time. But if we were forced to isolate or shelter in place for one year – what would remain of our cities and communities other than wasteland?
So. The middle of the road.
Mask Up to protect others. Get tested periodically to determine if I am a vector of contagion that could spread disease to others. If I feel sick or feverish, be responsible and stay home and call the doctor. These are prophylactics. Preventative measures. They are designed to stop the spread of disease. And what rational person would be opposed to stopping the spread of disease?
Prepare for re-entry. New social distancing guidelines. New methods of doing commerce and government. Using technology. Not feeling fear at the sight of another human being being on the same sidewalk as me. Time to cautiously re-create a sense of community even during an epidemic. LGBT people did it during AIDS. We can all do this during COVID19.
I know in advance that not everyone will agree with what I am writing today. And that’s ok. That’s what makes America who she is. Different opinions. Different ideas. Different directions.
But in order to preserve America’s greatness and freedoms, we must also preserve her security and well being. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Vigilant. Diligent. Reasoned. Compassionate. We can hold all these truths simultaneously.