It’s puzzling to me … the variety of ways that people view ‘freedom.’ The United States is considered a relatively free nation, but that doesn’t mean that people living here can do as they damn well please. The same is true of Canada … yes, the people are free in most every important way, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules. The rules in the U.S., Canada, and most every other western nation are put into place to protect people, the ‘greater good’ as we tend to think of it. For example, there are speed limits on highways to keep people safe, and there are age requirements for such things as a driving license, drinking alcohol, etc., all intended to keep us safe. Childhood vaccines keep our children safe in schools and rules against smoking in public keep us all safe in public venues. But some things are less clear, though common sense should rule but often fails to.
In early 2020, a global pandemic hit most nations including the United States, and safety measures were quickly put into place in an attempt to protect everyone from this deadly illness. Many states closed all non-essential businesses and implemented travel restrictions, restrictions on gatherings, and mask mandates. Most people respected and observed these measures – sure, we may have grumbled a bit, but we could plainly see, despite the lies told by then-president Trump, that this pandemic was serious and was taking people’s lives, so we did the right thing. Most of us, anyway.
Quickly, in the grand scheme of things, a vaccine was developed, tested, and proven effective against the coronavirus. The vaccine was rolled out at record speed, and everyone was happy to do their part and be vaccinated, yes? Wishful thinking. In fact now, a year or so after the first vaccines were administered, there is still some 30% of the population in the U.S. that are, by their own choice, unvaccinated. They claim that they have the ‘freedom’ to choose whether to be vaccinated or not. On the surface, this almost sounds reasonable except … these people walk among us. They go to work and risk exposing their co-workers, their children go to school, often without masks, and take a chance on infecting their schoolmates. They go into public venues such as grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, tobacco shops and more, again without masks, and risk the lives of any they come in contact with. Why? Because they claim it is an infringement on their ‘personal freedom’ to expect them to be vaccinated. Some, like the ignominious Sarah Palin, have even said they would choose death over the vaccine.
In my book, these people have no understanding of what personal freedom is. You cannot live in and be a part of a society if you have no care for the other members of that society. You cannot take without giving. When, by exercising that which you mistakenly believe is your ‘right,’ you put other people at risk for serious disease and possibly even death, then you have effectively pointed a loaded gun at them.
Unfortunately, some members of one of the two main political parties in the U.S. appears to be on the side of people’s ‘personal freedom’ over other people’s lives. Certain Republicans in Congress have voiced a desire to see a trucker’s convoy to protest mask mandates similar to the one that has disrupted life in Ottawa, Canada, happen in the U.S.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has expressed his ‘thoughts’ on the Canadian convoy …
“I’m all for it. Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates. I hope the truckers do come to America, and I hope they clog up cities.”
Specifically, he said he hoped they disrupted the Super Bowl that was played in Los Angeles yesterday (they didn’t) and that they would go to Washington D.C. on the day of President Biden’s State of the Union Address scheduled for March 1st. Interestingly, Senator Paul’s idea of freedom apparently only applies to people with white skin, for he gave no such support to Black Lives Matter protests after the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others by police. He referred to those protestors as ‘thugs’ and a ‘crazed mob.’ They were protesting vicious murders by the very people we pay to keep us safe, and Rand Paul called them ‘thugs,’ yet he praises those who would disrupt the entire country both physically and economically because they are told to wear a mask in public and get a little vaccine that doesn’t even hurt! Paul had the poor taste to joke about a potential trucker’s convoy, saying, “It’d be nice change. We’d actually have some traffic.”
The Department of Homeland Security distributed a bulletin to law enforcement agencies warning that a convoy of protesting truckers will potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in D.C. as late as mid-March. And all of this because some people are so selfish that they consider it a burden to protect their own health as well as that of their friends, co-workers, and families. This is not ‘freedom,’ my friends, this is greedy, arrogant ignorance.