We should all be concerned by how easily we are letting our basic freedoms slip away during this pandemic. Politicians say we must stay secluded until a vaccine is discovered or until the virus is cured. In the meantime, without even realizing it, we are allowing these politicians to control our lives. Some mayors and governors see this as an opportunity to exercise great authority. They tell us we cannot assemble with friends, even in our own homes. They shutter schools and important businesses. They close our churches! The virus offers a good excuse for them to gain more control.
When government leaders are able to wrest more and more control, no matter what the circumstances that allow it, individual liberty is lost. And when those original circumstances no longer exist, some of our rights may never return. That has been true throughout history. It seems as though many politicians today are taking advantage of the situation to extend the stay-at-home orders beyond what is necessary. They are enjoying the power it gives them.
Jobs are lost, businesses are ruined, people are unable to pay for basic necessities, children are deprived of education and are bored and confused. Healing society from the colossal economic and psychological damage will be increasingly more difficult as these severe orders remain in effect.
The media are declaring, and people are agreeing, that we must remain shut down in order to stem the virus. Compare this situation with the SARS outbreak in 2003. SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome — was a coronavirus that originated in southeast China. It was contagious person-to-person and was spread throughout much of the world by unwitting travelers. Like the COVID-19 virus, it was widespread, caused severe sickness and death, and had no cure or vaccine. Basic mitigation efforts were in place, but we did not shut down schools, restaurants and churches or other places of assembly. The worst economic losses were borne by the travel and hospitality industries, which rebounded quickly. The spread ended abruptly and the virus was declared contained within seven months.
Of course, we must practice mitigation and protect the most vulnerable. But at the same time let’s open our schools and churches. Let’s open our businesses and get the country back to work. And let’s beware of the erosion of our liberties. Our Bill of Rights is the greatest legacy of previous generations. We have to protect those rights for future Americans. If we are not vigilant now, that inheritance can be lost with our lack of attention or even with our approval.
Jim Blumel Sr.