Let us identify the elephant(s) in the room before we proceed.
I am a millennial.
I am not immunocompromised.
I did not lose my job.
(Let me know when I’ve lost you).
I am not a scientist or an epidemiologist or a politician.
Rather, I am an observer.
My lack of qualified titles or circumstances above may make me less attractive to many people swimming through the muck of dissonance and statistics; but, I think an observer has something valuable to offer when we lose sight of everything else in pursuit of only one thing.
The observer pulls us back into the bigger picture.
(Making me Samwise Gamgee and some of you Frodo Baggins).
Our government began labeling this virus as a “wartime enemy” from the start, utilizing the power of language to influence our minds. The severity of wartime is embedded in our tribal psyche, igniting our response centers. Fight or flight. But, that’s where something weird and, potentially, unnatural happened in our evolved 2020 brains.
Our thought regions were paralyzed, and we awaited what came next.
The unified decree to “flight.”
I forgot to mention above that I am not a conspiracy theorist or anti-government. Rather, I believe in Common Sense. I believe in our innate right to freedom. I believe that liberty is the exercise of freedom by each citizen guaranteeing another’s safety. I believe in each person’s individual capacity to look out for one another AND themselves. I do not believe that the government should encroach upon that freedom and control it upon our behalf by getting involved with opioids or determining when it is safe to go to the park and when it is not even if it is during a global pandemic. The government dictating how we express our freedom is not only the antithesis of freedom, it is unconstitutional.
So, I turned to what you have all been waiting for.
Former lawyer turned college professor, Evan Gerstmann, ultimately concluded in “Are ‘Stay at Home’ Orders Constitutional?” that they are. Citing a case from 1905, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, where a pastor argued against the validity of a mandatory smallpox vaccine, the Court sided with the state: “in every well-ordered society . . . the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.”
This is where the meaning of the constitution gets tricky (thwarted) and where the meaning of the constitution is not up to any of us, but, rather, someone else.
Lawyers wrote it; therefore, as civilians, the way we understand it may be different than the way a judge is convinced by a fellow litigator to interpret it.
Which is why we chose flight over fight.
We don’t really know what our freedoms are because they didn’t teach us about it in school. We were asked to memorize the amendments in US History, but not to use our critical thinking skills to apply and interpret them in a realistic setting.
We don’t really understand the Coronavirus because we aren’t doctors or scientists. Rather, we are all facing trauma from either job loss or the looming threat of job loss, pay cuts, and too many people squished within too small a space, making us far too preoccupied with the threat and overwhelm of daily survival.
No, not everyone is reacting the way I illustrated above (that would be so millennial of me to generalize). But, even for those of us who are obsessing over every new article that’s hot off the press as a way of determining how we’re supposed to act, we are still abiding by a stay-at-home protocol because we don’t have all the (enough) information.
First, it was this.
Then, it was this.
Now, it is this: “U.S. Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top Half a Million: World coronavirus death toll passes 100,000.”
The scary statistics reporting death count (LANGUAGE, PEOPLE, LANGUAGE) are not even the headline because they are significantly lower than the number of people infected.
But, the way they blend facts makes it inherently confusing. I couldn’t find many articles about stay-at-home protocols outside of Europe, Asia, and the token Middle Eastern country. The only resource I could find were reports compiled by Google because they are tracking our movements on our phones and comparing our current movement to our average movement pre-COVID-19 to eventually determine how effective quarantining actually has been.
But, one thing no one is discussing is the constitutionality of it all. Regardless of how educated you are about or protected you are from Coronavirus, I doubt you have thought about this at length because the media hasn’t brought it up. Rather, their strategy to combat this invisible enemy has been a month-long airstrike of conflicting global and national facts. Distracted by the constant information and opinion bombs, we have overlooked the lack of accounts depicting socio-cultural climates because they are too distinct to account for in a single combustive article. Since we aren’t going outside, we aren’t considering that the local government could be planting landmines where there once were wildflowers. That the threat of democracy is not Coronavirus nor the people we have put in charge.
Bringing me to the reason why I wrote this.
I woke up this morning to the walking trail beside my apartment being barricaded by city workers (Right, I remember, I’m privileged and entitled because I walk my dog in the morning. Thanks). Guys, it’s a sidewalk. A place where hobos roam and children play. It’s the site of the American Dream. Which means that what’s happening in my microclimate (city) is a complete erasure of democracy. We wake up each day to new information that was neither formally broadcast nor brought to us for consideration. There is no town hall to discuss. They have removed that “extraneous” (integral) step because of “public health.”
Which means our local government is performing unconstitutionally.
We are not citizens who have a say. We are people who need to be controlled. And, we aren’t helping our case. By continuing to do as they say, our democracy is weakening. We think we are side-stepping the worst (getting sick) by living in fear (doing anything not to get sick). We see “half a million” in the headline and immediately cower back into our sofa cushions trembling behind our face masks blinded by Gwyneth’s Goop documentary on Netflix.
That type of halfway reading and subsequent demoralization is exactly why our government doesn’t trust us and has stripped us of our liberty. It’s exactly why they closed public sidewalks and the grocery store is the “official” outlet informing me that face masks are now mandatory. Our halfway approach to fulfilling our roles as citizens is exactly why we no longer have any rights. We are not guaranteeing one another liberty by staying at home. Rather, we are worsening the future of our democracy.
So, this is a call to action.
Get off the internet/couch/bed, go outside, and smile at every single person you see. Behold their humanity. Realize that maybe you’ve seen one of them before. Consider the fact that movement is not only natural, BUT MANDATORY for us to stay healthy, sane, and alive. The moment we stop moving is the moment we become complacent, and, that is the moment democracy stops breathing.
No, flight for me.
I am an American and I am fighting.
Who is with me?