When I see you shopping at Lowe’s with your entire family, I cannot help but judge you and despise you. I cannot help but think that you are being reckless, and perhaps even evil, by risking the health of your spouse and children. I cannot ponder the limitless reasons that it may be essential for you and your family to be there. I must assume that you are there for the worst possible reasons, and that your behavior is nothing more than a callous disregard of social distancing. I cannot give you the benefit of the doubt and fathom you might have a medical or religious reason for not wearing a mask, or that you might not be able to find a babysitter, and I certainly cannot even begin to wrap my head around the idea that it’s absolutely abhorrent to suggest that a person must have a valid reason (approved by myself, of course) for going to a store with their family.
Because I am afraid.
I cannot realize that it’s fundamentally no riskier to bring your entire family than it would be for your family to stay at home or wait in the car. It is beyond my grasp that, if you catch CoVid-19, you will immediately transmit it to your spouse and children anyway, even if they have properly stayed locked up in their homes. This field of reason is to great for my limited vision to take in.
Because I am afraid.
If you are standing around a vehicle talking with other people, I cannot simply assume that you have encountered a friend and that, being starved for human contact, you have taken the opportunity to carry on a few minutes of casual dialogue. Nor can I even begin to understand that you are starved for human contact, much less how a few minutes of casual conversation–like one might find after church services–could rapidly turn into half an hour of interaction. I cannot appreciate that you, as a human being, need this interaction, nor can I recognize that this open-air banter is significantly less threatening than walking through the crowded aisles of the stores among strangers.
Because I am afraid.
I know that you are lying, and are a vile, disgusting wretch who values recreation over everything else, when you are still attending (much less organizing!) social gatherings, in flagrant disregard of the suggestions of Caesar and medical personnel. You can say “freedom” and “rights” all that you want, but I know the truth. The truth is that this is just a veil you are wearing, a convenient pretense to hide the reality that all you care about is hanging out with friends, and that you have no concern whatsoever for anyone’s rights or freedom. I know all these things about you. I know you are deceitful, reckless, and hateful.
Because I am afraid.
One [side of this discussion] values recreation over others’ lives and safety. Not freedom. Not “rights.” Recreation. Period. That’s not a “both sides” thing. It’s a good attitude versus a bad attitude thing. And I feel no obligation to break bread with people who want others to get sick and/or die just so they can make tee time. (emphasis added)
That is a real quote from someone. Although the opening of this post is not meant to be sincere from my perspective, I have to be honest that I genuinely cannot imagine being so filled with fear and hate that, when I see someone proclaiming they are standing up for their rights, I must immediately and incontrovertibly assume that they “want others to get sick and/or die just so they can make tee time.” That’s a terrifyingly myopic view of things. In his worldview–and this is the worldview espoused by many, but, in this particular case, it’s a Christian whose faith has been thoroughly mangled by CoVid-19–everyone secretly just wants to go play golf, and they they aren’t just flippant about whether others might get sick. Instead, they actively want others to get sick and/or die.
I’ve never had strangers think so little of me before.
Now, this is despite the fact that social interactions are essential between human beings, and that there has never been evidence to suggest that humans do totally fine while in isolation. Let’s disregard that for a moment, because whether humans need social interactions is immaterial.
Here I am, stating that I am gathering in crowds (which, it’s worth noting, I wouldn’t even be doing if not for CoVid-19–I’d be at home on Friday nights or hanging out with a smaller crowd of friends) because I have the right to travel freely and to assemble with others if we all so choose. That is my official position, and it is the official position of all the people who have been protesting the lockdowns lately. There is no need to speculate or assume what our motives are; we have outright stated our motives. We have made it clear that we are assembling because the right to engage in commerce, the right to travel, and the right to assemble are important, and that we are not willing to relinquish these rights because Caesar said to. We could not possibly be clearer about this.
So allow me to spill the beans on this one: I’m probably an “at-risk” individual. I have asthma and extreme sleep apnea (for those unaware, this means I stop breathing hundreds of times throughout the night), and I’m a smoker–on top of that, I’ve always had weak lungs anyway due to my birth and have always been highly susceptible to pneumonia (such that I’ve had it no less than 5 times). Now, knowing that this thing would almost certainly kill me if the stories about it are true, what is there that might inspire me to be willing to put my life at risk? What cause is there worth fighting for if the price is death? I’ve been clear about this for years:
Liberty, freedom, and love.
We can also get into the fact that valuing recreation highly enough to risk one’s own life isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What is “recreation” if not a way of handling the crippling isolation we otherwise feel?
We must get off this path we’re on. I had hoped it had gotten as bad as it could get when I realized that the masses of people were viewing one another as plague-carrying rats to be avoided at all cost. Yet it’s gotten worse. Now not only do the masses of people view others as disease-ridden, wretched time-bombs, but they are going further and assuming that those rats are intentionally and maliciously spreading the plague. It is a frighteningly small step from where we’re at today–which is “these people want others to get sick and/or die!”–to “they should be rounded up and killed before they can hurt others.” Worse still, that’s the next rational step for someone who believes all those other assumptions are valid.
If CoVid-19 is as dangerous as we have been led to believe… We have no basis for assuming that Bob isn’t at Lowe’s for essential reasons, but the assumption is that Bob is not there on essential business. We further have no basis for assuming that Bob has disdainfully chosen to not wear a mask, and that Bob has no underlying medical condition that would cause a mask to be a complication (even claustrophobia can be set off by a mask, leading to a panic attack), but the assumption is that Bob has chosen not to wear a mask, for no other reason than that he is selfish. We have no basis for assuming that Bob wants other people to get sick and/or die, but we’re going to assume it anyway. If all of these things are true, then the next step is obvious. Bob is a threat to others, and that threat must be dealt with quickly and decisively.
I have a long history of refusing to argue with concrete conclusions that are built on faulty premises, and that is what we have here. If all of those things are true, then the conclusion is probably sound. I’m not sure, because I see no point in dedicating any of my brain cells to thinking it through. It’s a pointless exercise because there is no evidence at all that any one of those assumptions is valid, much less all of them, and all of them have to be true for the conclusion to be valid.
If A is true, and if B is true, and if C is true, and if D is true, and if E is true, then F must follow.
Great. However, A isn’t true. B isn’t true. C isn’t true. D isn’t true. E isn’t true. F only follows if all the variables are true, and not a single one can be shown to be true, and they all must be true for the conclusion to be valid.
We must immediately stop believing the absolute worst about everyone else. We cannot allow this to continue. We have to immediately train ourselves to view others in love, rather than fear, and to give one another the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Bob really is the person they’re describing. Maybe Bob has severe claustrophobia and separation anxiety, and needs to be around his family in these difficult times, and maybe Bob is out shopping for essential things. We don’t know. Assuming either of these two possibilities is asinine. The difference between these two assumptions is that the first is motivated by fear, and the latter by love, but neither assumption is likely to be true.
So the best we can do, knowing nothing about the situations other people are in, is to give them the benefit of the doubt. And if the consequences for my choosing to live in love rather than fear, and my willingness to give Bob the benefit of the doubt and think the best of him, is that I will die of CoVid-19 because the masses were right and Bob is an immoral psychopath, then so be it. I would rather die in love than live in fear.