So, wanting to be articulate in the times of President Hoover the 2nd can nearly make you an enemy of the state these days, but here I am anyway, shouting into the wind in hopes of getting at least one person – one of you – to listen.
These times have been difficult. I don’t think you’ll find a single soul who will deny that. Not the 90 thousand plus dead in our nation, not the million plus who have gotten sick so far, not the one person in four who has lost their jobs, not the rest of us still working under these new circumstances. We’ve lost a lot, whether it be the simple routine of going to work, having coffee or lunch with friends, hanging out for drinks with your best buds, or just travel – all the way to lost work and wages, lost homes, friends and loved ones sick or even dead.
It’s been a nightmare. Let no one doubt that. Leadership has failed us – but let’s set that aside for now. I want to talk to you about your rights as freedom loving members of The United States.
Lockdown has been terrible. Quarantine has been awful. No one wants this – not even people like me who won’t be leaving it for a while. I am honest to god happy that you know your constitutional rights. Freedom of expression. Freedom of assembly. The right to say “Goddamn it I want a cheeseburger, and I can afford it even under these circumstances, so I have the right to go and get one!”
I’m happy that you know these rights. I happy that you have them. But I am unhappy that you only half-UNDERSTAND them.
America, when it works, it a beautiful thing. The things we can accomplish, the pride we can instill within ourselves – it’s an amazing thing. A great deal of it feeds from those very rights you celebrate. It’s simply awesome, and awe-inspiring. It’s why everyone in the world has, for so long, wanted to be just like us.
But those inalienable rights – freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly – nowhere is it written, not in the constitution, not in the Bible, not in the Koran or the Torah or any other religious or political text – nowhere is it written that you can exercise those rights at the expense of those same rights belonging to another person.
You may NOT express those rights while hurting the rights of another. One more time, you may NOT express those rights while hurting the rights of another and that’s what you’ve been doing. I’m sure many of you didn’t realize that, but you are hurting and damaging the rights of other people.
You see I too have those rights, and I can’t exercise those rights at the moment because I don’t want to die. I have work left undone. COVID-19 is a threat to my very ability to do the things you so desperately want to do. I’d like to do it too. But in addition to daringly exercising those rights you so desperately want to exhibit and explore you are also spreading the virus. Perhaps not you specifically but you collectively. The more of you that go out in defiance of the science the more the disease will spread. And don’t let anyone lie to you – the disease is growing, spreading, and killing a LOT more people than the flu.
The number of people who can’t go out while you do is actually a rather astonishing number. The elderly – or even those just getting up there in years. The Baby Boomers, most of whom are now retirement age. The 1 in 10 people who have respiratory problems, of which I am one. The 1 in 10 who has diabetes. The HALF of the country who has some form of heart disease. And while this disease has done the most damage to these groups it also affects the fit, the healthy, the young and even infants and small children.
It has even infected and killed people who have led protests to “open up the country again”.
I don’t know how to tell you to be considerate to your fellow man. I don’t know how to tell you to be considerate of others at the expense of a slight diminishment in the expression of your freedoms. I don’t even know how to show you the truth in my words.
Except that I do.
We listened to you. We listened to you express your desires. Express your wants of your total and complete freedoms. Now it’s your turn. Listen to us. Listen to the science of it all. Look at how easily it spreads. Look at how easy it is to fight.
And look to your beliefs. Is there anything in there, anywhere, that says it’s okay to get ahead while hurting others? Or is there a LOT in there about helping yourself by helping and lifting up others? I haven’t read all of your books (I’ve read a couple) so I don’t know, but you keep telling me that this is the way it is – maybe you should live it for the moment, right when we need it most.
If we can all hang in there, together, for just a little while, then we can start to fix the damage this has done. Stop wishing for things to be the way they were. That’s simply not going to happen and anyone telling you so is lying or deluded. You keep hearing the words “Open the economy up”. It’s been open and it always was. It’s just DIFFERENT. It will be different again. We will get back to work – there’s plenty to do.
But in the meantime, let’s lift one another up, not be so selfish that we can’t live a few weeks without a haircut. This could be over in two months if we can ALL work together.
And if you can’t listen to these words or ones like them, if you can’t find it in your heart to make the sacrifices that it takes to be an American – to lift up your fellow Americans in times of hardship and not inflict any pain, no matter now unintentional it is done – if you can’t adapt, then I can’t understand you.
And THAT is how America dies.