If some future culture uncovers the remnants of this one, I think the archeologists will conclude that we were undone by indecision. And selfishness.
It takes today’s TV pundits hours to analyze today’s headlines, but you could boil it down to this: Who demanded they get what they want, and who asserted they should not have it, and everything stopped.
Everyone wants free choice, but the lists of choices are confusing if there is no compromise. There are those who capitalize on dissension, stoking the fires of conflict to gain power.
Perhaps some future civilization, if one survives the current combination of pandemic, virus variants, and Trump cultist idiocy, will return to a time when elections were held to select wise and informed, mostly honest leaders to make decisions in the best interests of the greater democracy, and not just special pressure groups.
If they scour the archives, future diggers will discover that we began with the idea that we should have had more freedom of choice than granted by the royal elite government leaders of the day. So, we revolted. Revolts were not new. People have been revolting since the day Eve yanked the apple off the tree. We are revolting much of the time, we humans.
We can be most revolting when we are asserting what we consider to be our rights. You may have noticed that people do not demonstrate to assert their own responsibilities. This can lead to some confusion, as when demonstrators demand that everyone else should wear a mask in schools, but COVID vaccinations should be optional.
Then we have organized groups of parents who will only put up with school closings for so long before they demand that somebody fix it. And once the easy part is done, we divide into work groups to resolve the ... choices. Open schools fully, or partially, or alternative days, or with masks – or not – or keep schooling on a virtual basis, by video or internet (where available).
Too many choices. When they come up with a work product, it will be rejected by some and supported by others. Then it’s game on.
This chapter may captivate future diggers of old battlefields. Hell hath no fury like parents who morph from disengaged to going on the warpath. Relatively few parents will walk a line with a sign demanding better pay and conditions for teachers, but don’t make polity that will mess up work schedules or vacation plans. This is a whole different tribe from the parents demanding that their child not be required to wear masks to attend classes, or from another tribe that insists that all children are safe not only from COVID but from association with liberals.
Freedom of choice has devolved from assuring our own voice to insisting that we have the right to rule others. The all-or-nothing mentality of those who love strong and even tyrannical use of powers of government is infecting the culture even more than the symbolism of the arguments over masks and vaccines.
I don’t think this was what the Founding Fathers had in mind. I believe the idea was that responsibility was the price of liberty, and a modern example might be that it may be inconvenient to wear masks a while longer, but it isn’t just about your convenience. Nor is it only about your risks regarding the vaccine. The science, the facts, show it’s better for people – all people – if we all get vaccinated.
We have to wonder how the story scribbled on the rubble of our days will play out: Did we ever get around to electing reasonable and responsible people who would subjugate their own egos and forgo enriching themselves to run the business of government for the best interests of all citizens?
Did the people ever acknowledge the authority they vested in elected officials to use science and education and experience and morality and ethics to form policy to maintain the peace and prosperity of all?
Did we care enough about our responsibility to others to wear a mask or get a vaccine?
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Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.