Something happened on the way to freedom.
Well, friends, I guess this is it, the moment when I finally need to come up for air and let off a bit of the quarantine steam that's been steadily building up inside of me.
Today's funk: armchair epidemiologists.
Maybe it's the mounting flood of disinformation online. Maybe it's the cackling family, young and old, browsing the local Dollar General with zero regard for the safety of others.
For sure, it could be both.
It breaks my heart to see otherwise intelligent people leap-frogging the entire, global medical community and coming up with their own conclusions about COVID19, often based on little more than a ‘Facebook find’ or YouTube video of fancy-sounding, "alternate facts." This despite knowing just how prevalent the insidious spread of targeted, false information is on the Internet, with plenty of enemies, motive, and evidence to fuel the whole thing.
It's not that I'm surprised by people believing unbelievable things. I enjoy a good page-turner, just like anyone else. Having grown up a preacher's kid and devout evangelical, I personally believed lots of unbelievable things for the better part of 30 years. Some days, I'll admit, I still do believe some unbelievable things. Or maybe I should say, I remain open and curious. However, I'm beginning to wonder if believing in miracles hasn't ruined our ability to believe in anything more ordinary. Have we become so addicted to big, crazy ideas that we've lost our collective hold on common sense?
Let's Get Hypothetical
Even if this whole coronavirus thing was some kind of global conspiracy, you do realize that we can all choose to voluntarily seize upon that moment, exploit that conspiracy, and use it to explore what we are made of, right?
Like, making lemonade out of lemons?
Understandably, instead of reaching for the juicer, many folks are cursing the lemons. There couldn't be a more predictable response to a free person being asked to suspend some freedom. I just wish we were a little more self-assured by now, a little more confident in our hold of this thing that we call freedom.
I get it, freedom is fought for, not granted, and if they take it from us, we might never get it back again, but since when did voluntarily suspending some personal control for a limited period of time become synonymous with enslavement?
Alas, freedom doesn't only allow for personal sacrifice, it requires it.
If you don't believe me, ask a soldier.
Oh, right! Soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice so we don't have to. Silly me.
Never-mind the war that always happens back at home, in the factories and the cities, when everything turns upside-down and re-orients toward the new cause. That only counts when the battle is "out there," right? Not when it's here at home.
How foolish of me.
Who do you think you are?
For Heaven's sake
What's the point of being free if you can't actually use it to do something bigger than yourself, something wonderful? If we are all just dead-set on being selfish, who needs freedom?
Everybody gets what they want all the time, no questions asked. No one gets to tell you what to do. No sacrifice needs to be made.
For some, this is the blueprint of Heaven. Round it off with streets of gold and you're almost there, except for that part about being subject to a King once more.
But what about comorbidity?
It's no big secret; it isn’t always a single disease that kills us, it’s the coupling to our other weaknesses that lights the fuse. If you're just now figuring that out, you've only proven how late you are to the epidemiological party. I wouldn't brag about that.
Our age, obesity, cholesterol, heart conditions, compromised immune systems, and countless other health problems don’t diminish the fact that an itty-bitty virus can be the “flick” that sends the dominoes falling. Blaming the gun for the mass shooting, while ignoring the shooter, isn't woke, it's weak. Remember?
I’m looking at you, the smarter, calmer, stronger ones who have no interest in being anyone’s fool. Perhaps you are smarter than us, but you aren’t more valuable. You are definitely special, but you aren’t more special than anyone else.
Maybe it's time to make a list.
The next time you say a prayer for the people you love while roaming precaution-free through common spaces, refusing to comply on account of your personal freedom, ask yourself how many... and specifically whom... among your sisters and brothers you are willing to lose.
Be bold and fearless with this exercise! You are free, after all, to be brutally honest about who should stay and who should go.
Write their names on a piece of paper and stick it to the door of your refrigerator.
At the top, maybe put “The weak ones.”
You can start your list with my son's name, Charles. He's seven years old, sweet as the day is long, full of potential, and has no political affiliation that we have thus far been able to ascertain.
Charles is among those who are "at risk" and has been since the day he was born. We have other children in a similar position, but I'll spare you their names since you'll be needing room for the names of your own family and friends. This is America, after all. I guarantee, you know someone who presently doesn't stand a chance against this virus, because of comorbidity.
Before long, I suspect you'll come up with a page of names that should be rather difficult to look at.
And how does it feel, not being on your own list?
Supremacy, masquerading as strength, masquerading as independence, has long been humanity's fatal flaw, if not its original sin. It's certainly not something to boast about. On the contrary, supremacy is something we ought to be correcting for. That's because freedom and supremacy are opposing forces. Just ask the commoners who told their king to stick it, once upon a time.
I love America.
Certainly, some do not.
Whereas propaganda once fell from the sky over some other country, on leaflets, broadcast signals, and blaring speakers, it now falls on deaf minds, right in our own living rooms, bouncing through in plain view under our all-too-eager, swiping fingers.
One thing that is truly great about America is the promise of freedom, the freedom to be precisely who we mean to be. Just please be aware, the modern battlefield, like never before in history, is your mind, and the gateway is literally the palm of your hand.
For the love of everything that you value, and for the people's names you will never stick to your refrigerator door, please be sure you haven't already lost your mind completely.
This will all be over soon enough.
Even if it takes a very long time, that time will pale in comparison to the ground humanity has covered in the last several hundred years. In terms of progress, our species is making great time, and we've come a long way. Before you know it, the right treatments will come along, COVID19 may be reduced to "just another bug," and we will all look back on this moment for what it will finally be, a practice run for the true dilemma that is, no doubt, headed our way.
It's time to get with the group on this.
We aren't alone unless we choose to be.
And we are not free, unless we are free together.