When I hear and read of these protests to end the COVID-19 Lockdown and re-open the Economy, what I mostly hear is fear: particularly the (well-founded) fear of losing one’s home and livelihood in the current economic shutdown.
I hear a desperate cry to return things back to the way they were, even though that is not possible. I hear the fear of people who do not have the resources they need to survive this plague for an indefinite period of time. I hear the fear of people who are grasping for hope. These protestors are yelling for “Freedom.” To me, it is clear what they mean is “Freedom From Fear”. But, they can only imagine that Freedom on their own terms: not within the context of being a member-of, and dependent upon, the society around them. They believe that Freedom from responsibility to their neighbor is the only way to survive.
Ultimately, they do not have the “social safety net” they need to “make it” – and they know it. They know they live in a society which no longer believes that one of our government’s primary functions is to care for those who cannot help themselves. They know that our society and government now demands those in need must “lift themselves up by their own bootstraps.” They know there is no one there to help them. And so, they are trying to get themselves out of the fearful mess they are in the only way they know how.
They are trying to survive in a world where all hope for them is gone.
So, I do not judge those who are protesting for their foolishness and self-centeredness, for their threats of violence, for their blindness to the realities of our situation. Ultimately, it is we – all of us – who failed them, and failed ourselves. The American Dream they (and we) once trusted in is dead.
We have transformed our Nation into one that rejects and marginalizes those in need, instead of caring for them. We have become divisive and suspicious of our neighbor. The “social distancing” we experience now is merely a new phase in the distancing from our neighbors that – for decades – has been becoming ever more extreme and destructive.
If there was ever a time for us to reclaim what we once were,a nd what we once aspired to be, it is now.
If the government dictates that we must close down the economy, then it is incumbent upon that same government to ensure that the people – ALL the people – can survive that shutdown, and have a reasonable hope of returning to fruitful and stable lives afterwards. For our leaders to leave people to survive on their own without help in such a situation is cruel and indefensible.
We cannot do it on our own. We cannot “lift ourselves by our own bootstraps.” We will survive COVID-19 and prosper once again only if we pull together, not pull ourselves farther apart.
We need to love our neighbor, share what we have with them, show them that we care and will work with them to overcome the fear and loss that they (and we) are facing.
We must love one another.
Copyright (c) 2020, Allen Vander Meulen III.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.