COPYRIGHT 2020 Debra Littlejohn Shinder
The past three months have been tough on almost everybody. Well, maybe not Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and a handful of other billionaires, whose net worth has increased substantially, or Tony Fauci and other public health “experts,” who are having their time in the limelight — but for most “regular people,” these have not been the best months of our lives.
We’ve been told we’re “at war” with an enemy too small to see, a virus that we’re constantly reminded is novel, and thus nobody really knows how to fight it. I generally despise the “war” analogy (look at how well the war on drugs and war on poverty worked out), but I have to admit it has at times felt like a continuous battle — a battle against fear and fear-mongering, against the endless streams of misinformation, against people who have taken advantage of a health issue to further their own agendas and turn neighbors, friends, and family members against one another, and the “leaders” who have seized the opportunity to impose more and more restrictions on our lives.
After having created months of economic shutdown (and personal and national economic devastation), rising rates of suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, and stress-related illnesses and behaviors, governments rightly realized (helped along by the protests, violence, and growing disgruntlement of their constituencies) that they couldn’t keep an entire population under house arrest for much longer. They started opening things up again. Then, when the expected happened — rising numbers of “cases” — they seized that excuse to exert their power again, this time by requiring everyone to wear masks everywhere or almost everywhere they go in public.
Never mind that as the number of infections rose (which is normal when a quarantine is lifted), the death rate plummeted down, down, down and continues to do so. Never mind that large numbers of infections with mild or no symptoms is a good thing, that that’s the way herd immunity happens. Never mind that their hysterical cries of “rising numbers” and “spikes in positives,” gleefully repeated by the media, are just an example of lies, damn lies, and statistics.
“Oh, but, oh, but, oh, but!!!,” they retort, “Hospitalizations are up, too!!! THAT PROVES we’re having a dangerous second wave!!” (They like to use capital letters and lots of scary exclamation points). Actually, it doesn’t. Here’s why: just as they count anyone who died with, not necessarily from COVID as a COVID death, they count anyone who’s hospitalized with COVID, not necessarily because of COVID, as a COVID hospitalization.
Now, during the lockdown, no one was allowed to be admitted to the hospital unless they had COVID or a life-threatening condition. So now that things are opening up, all those people getting their knee replacements or benign cyst removals or back surgeries or other so-called “elective” treatments are being admitted to the hospital again.
And what’s the first thing they do to them? Test them for COVID. So all those people out there with no symptoms or mild symptoms who didn’t know they had COVID and went into the hospital for something else are now “COVID hospitalizations.” So of course hospitalizations are up.
But never mind any of that. Our fearful leaders had made up their collective mind: it was time to impose another layer of dictatorial control by blotting out our faces and individuality with useless mandatory face coverings. Some states and cities and counties created laws directly forcing this on their citizens. Others, in a particularly cowardly manner and as a way to slip through loopholes that prevented them from going after the customers directly, instead made laws that force businesses to force their customers to wear the masks of subjugation.
They have implemented a de facto second lockdown. They just aren’t calling it that. And just like the city council that says “oh, we didn’t raise your tax rate” while cheering on the appraisal district that raises your valuation sky high so the city can rake in all that extra money, they can deny responsibility. They won’t tell you that you can’t go anywhere; they’re just going to make going anywhere so heinous (a mask on your face in 100° weather? The fear that the government is tracking you everywhere you go?) that everyone will just “choose” to stay home.
And they can and will innocently shrug their shoulders and proclaim “we care about your freedom” and “we’ve opened back up” and of course that old standby of moms and nanny states: “we’re doing this for your own good.” Meanwhile, businesses suffer again. Individuals suffer AGAIN. Freedom suffers, dies, and is buried again.
In a way this second wave of government overreach is worse than the lockdown — during that we could at least go to the grocery store without a stifling, useless piece of cloth dehumanizing us and turning us into “subjects” instead of real human beings with feelings and thoughts and facial expressions and the ability to make decisions for ourselves.
And now I see a lot of people succumbing to battle fatigue. It’s understandable. They’re tired of fighting. They don’t feel as if they have the power to change anything. They don’t agree with the changes being made to our society but they’ve given up on resisting. They’re willing to go along with the program if it promises to allow them to get back to doing what they want to do.
So they convince themselves that it’s not really that bad, that their fears and worries are paranoid, that all of our concerns are overblown.
Maybe they are.
But maybe they’re not.
Human beings are resilient and adaptable but we aren’t built to live under constant stress from never-ending FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). The fear – whether of the virus or of the government – is paralyzing, and the doubt – in ourselves, in everything we’re told, in the future – is debilitating, but I think it might be the uncertainty that takes the biggest toll on our psyches.
— Christopher Hitchens
“The true essence of a dictatorship is in fact not its regularity but its unpredictability and caprice; those who live under it must never be able to relax, must never be quite sure if they have followed the rules correctly or not.”
Most of us have been living under executive branch dictatorships for months now, with governors, mayors, and county judges having suddenly seized control of our lives and they’re enjoying (way too much) more power than they have ever seen before in my lifetime. They’re using and abusing it to their hearts’ content, and it’s we the people who have to live with the consequences.
Some of them have completely ignored their legislative bodies and are making rules that carry the force of law with no accountability. Some have brought the legislators into the process at least in a token fashion, but they seem to hold so much influence over the majority that their edicts get rubber stamped and the few brave law makers who stand up to them end up as helpless and frustrated as the rest of us.
No wonder so many citizens are just giving up. I hear the resignation and despair in their voices and see it in their eyes; I read it between the lines of their words on the printed page or the electronic screen:
“I’ll wear the damn mask even though I don’t believe it does any good. It’s a small price to pay to get to go places.” No, that price might look small but read the fine print; those easy daily installments come with a great big fat balloon payment — the loss of all your freedom — at the end.
“I just want to stay home and turn off the news and not have to think about any of this anymore.” And so, you let them win. Game over. Welcome to socialism. Next up: full-court, all-out communism. Think that’s ridiculous? Study history – see how it happened to other countries. Listen to the once-extreme but now mainstream block of the left, to some of the people who have been elected to our U.S. Congress and to numerous local offices. They aren’t pretending anymore. They call themselves Democratic Socialists. They are out to fundamentally change our country and our way of life and they have made no secret of it. Our police officers are under attack, our freedom of movement and choice are gone, and our nation is unrecognizable compared to six months ago. I don’t want to think about that, either — but if we hide our heads in the sand, we’ll suffocate.
“Maybe it’s not really as bad as it seems.” I hope you’re right. I fear you’re wrong. That why I can’t be a ostrich, as attractive as that prospect might be.
But if we can’t (and shouldn’t) give up and give in, what should we do? What can we do?
Stress eating and gaining twenty pounds isn’t the answer.
Taking our anger and frustration out on our spouse or kids or friends isn’t the answer.
Blasting our elected officials with nasty, out of control rants that only makes them think their actions are justified isn’t the answer.
Agonizing over the situation and letting it suck all the happiness out of our lives isn’t the answer.
Persevere, don’t perseverate.
I’m writing this on Father’s Day, so it seems natural that I ask myself what my dad would do if he were here today. Daddy had strong feelings about things and he never compromised his principles but he stood up for his beliefs without getting angry (99.9% of the time). I haven’t mastered that yet. He was the real life manifestation of serenity, courage, and wisdom. He really did accept what he couldn’t change and changed what he could and he almost always knew the difference.
He was my rock. That rock is the cornerstone of the foundation on which my life is built. That foundation is made of the things that he taught me: stoicism, stubbornness, patience, compassion, confidence, self-discipline, optimistic realism and an overriding faith that listening to my conscious and doing what’s right and standing up for those who are too weak or afraid or unaware to stand up for themselves is the path that leads eventually to a happy ending.
I think if I could have a talk with Daddy today, he’d tell me to stop letting these external factors steal my peace. I think he’d say quit raging against the night. I think he’d want me to light a fire against the darkness — but a carefully tended one that doesn’t flame up and burn out of control. I think he might suggest that I stop talking about the evil and start taking some actions to support the good.
I can’t change other people. I can’t change what Governor Abbott does or doesn’t do. I can’t change what Clay Jenkins and the county commissioners do or don’t do. I can’t change what the Rowlett city council does or doesn’t do. They all have the power right now and I don’t.
But I can vote — at the ballot box and/or with my feet.
I have to live here right now, but I don’t have to do one iota of business in this city and county. I have the time and I have the money for gasoline; I can drive to Rockwall or Plano, or if they do it too I can drive to Greenville, or to wherever I have to — I’ll drive to frakking Oklahoma if I have to, to find a sane and free place to spend my money where I don’t have to cover my face.
It’s never been easy or popular, throughout history, to be on the side of freedom and liberty or to stand up for what’s right. I shouldn’t expect it to be. JFK said “we do these things not because they are easy.” My dad taught me to never take the easy way out.
And I think right now, he’d tell me to do what I can and then stop and take a deep breath and relax and trust in God and karma to do what they do best. It always seemed to work for him.