Coronavirus and Personal Freedom

Coronavirus and Personal Freedom

All around us the voices echo, proclaiming that, because of Coronavirus restrictions, our rights have been stripped away. Americans must fight back, they say.

We are scared. And I get it. I’m a small business owner. And the restrictions have had a definite impact on my life. But here’s the thing.

I am okay with the government enforcing stricter policies during a pandemic.

I’m okay with that, not because I’m a coward, afraid to stand up for my rights, but because I understand that there are limits to our rights.

Coronavirus and The Harm Principle

John Stuart Mill once wrote, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” This is called The Harm Principle and this is what we are seeing the government enact in the case of Coronavirus. Restrictions have been made in order to bring health to all.

Are businesses suffering under the weight of these Coronavirus restrictions? Yes. Is our economy suffering? Yes. Is my family’s small business suffering? Yes.

Is it a shame that the government has to go to such lengths to enforce social distancing? I think, yes.

Because what if they didn’t have to?

What if Americans seized the opportunity to voluntarily lay down their rights? What if they paved a new path, away from individualism and Self during this time?

What if Americans bravely faced their fears of losing normalcy and willingly submitted to the knowledge of those who understand infectious disease?

Wouldn’t it be beautiful to see the people of this nation, zealously lay down some of their comforts to honor their friends with cancer?

Wouldn’t it be spectacular if we cared more deeply about the elderly, diabetic, immunocompromised, or asthmatic than we do about our recreation? Our past-times? Our first world conveniences?

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we freely surrendered some of our own economic stability for the good of the healthcare system? For the workers who depend on our efforts to keep it all from crashing?

Of course, yes!

But what is stopping us from laying down our lives for our neighbors?

Are we scared our friends or family members businesses might shut down? Are we afraid of what we’ll do if we lose our own businesses?

What if we took that all that fear and, instead of standing in a line of protesters, used it’s energy to think creatively? What if we reconsidered what we have that we don’t need and how we can support one another? What if we stopped demanding our rights over our vulnerable neighbors and started thinking of new ways to earn an income while following the advice of health experts?

What if … we started looking differently at the word ‘Freedom’?

What if we truly begin to value …

The Freedom to love one another, The Freedom to protect each other? The Freedom to sacrifice our good for the very Life of another?

Right now, we have the Freedom to make changes, some of them difficult, and save the lives of people we love.

We may not always have that.

But as far as I’m concerned, that’s the greatest Liberty of them all.


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