Moreso now than any other time in recent memory, we are being asked to weigh the risks and benefits of every action we take. Of course, life is always like this, but the pandemic has certainly brought this daily challenge to the forefront of our minds.
And like any modern challenge, many have retreated to their comfortable fortresses of ideology. If you favor reopening, you are a monster who wants to kill everyone. If you favor continuation of self-isolation, you are a fear-mongering Karen intent on reporting everyone having fun or trying to make a living during these dark times.
The masses will convince you there is no inbetween. You can’t possibly consider the virus a serious threat and value your personal freedom.
They are wrong.
Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been fairly consistent. This is a serious virus that needs serious attention by everyone. Those at higher risk should be even more vigilant. But I have not called for any government action, no police raids on kids’ basketball game, and no laws dictating what people can and cannot do.
And yet, if you show just the slightest bit of deference in the position of one of these two impenetrable castles, you are immediately scolded by the opposite side.
I shouldn’t be surprised. This kind of binary thinking and political brinkmanship was in place long before the virus.
At my core, I believe in freedom. Positions favoring the individual should be the default, but we do require others to live in our modern society. We cannot forget that.
Freedom is a double-edged sword. It gives us tremendous liberty at the cost of tremendous responsibility. Some of this responsibility is to be good protectors and stewards of our land, our friends and loved ones, and our greater community. We show the love of our neighbor not through draconian laws but through compassion and empathy.
Wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others is not just to protect yourself. It’s to protect others. If you don’t feel the need to protect yourself, you still shouldn’t bring harm to others.
I get it. Masks are uncomfortable. But what is the alternative? Wilfully harming your friends and neighbors?
You see, freedom is a tricky thing. Freedom doesn’t mean you will be free from sacrifice. It doesn’t mean you will always be right. It doesn’t mean you should do something just because you can.
It means you take responsibility for being better, for growing as a person, and striving to minimize the inevitable harm you do to others as you live.
Freedom is a powerful tool to respect and use with wisdom. If you hold it as a bauble to justify your actions, even if they potentially harm others, you aren’t ready for it.