It has certainly been an interesting week as we enter another phase of life as a Pandemillennial, a descriptive that I pulled out of the air. I think folks living through this experience deserve some sort of generational recognition as a result of the inconveniences this damned virus has inflicted upon us. The Draconian measures we are forced to deal with are starting to fray a bit at the edges, as Americans cherish individual freedom. Here is what I see as we close another week in quarantine.
Being in a policy making position these days has got to be a miserable experience. I can not imagine the anguish as you listen to the scientists and doctors, who certainly have our best interests at heart, counsel massive restrictions on our ability to move about normally. Personal accountability leaves too many holes in attempting to stymie the virus by restricting our movement. Some people play by the rules and some do not, placing government in a terrible position as it attempts to enforce the restrictions that scientists believe will slow the deadly virus until one of two things happens. A vaccine and/or a ‘cure’ will bring this hell to an end, until then, key “Draconian” as our best option.
Sharon and I made our trek to a local market to buy food, our second trip out since being sequestered. We took the recommended precautions, however; ended up at two stores as the first stop was “out” of many things on our shopping list. Our second stop, to a well regulated wholesale club, provided the missing commodities with virtually no inconvenience. We noticed many people who were ignoring the distancing thing and an equal number who were gloved and wore face masks. Count us among those that looked like we were at a chemical spill on the Interstate. While there was a noticeable reduction in traffic on our roads, many were taking advantage of the lack of traffic to drive as if there were no traffic laws.
I predicted early on in this unholy event that policing was about to take a nasty turn as law enforcement was being squeezed into uncharted water, enforcing decrees that infringe upon freedom. Most of the orders, predictably, leave gaping holes in terms of “essential” activity. In our city, officers ticketed a group of motorcyclists who had stopped at a convenience store. I have many years experience in the business of enforcement, and know to never pass judgement on an enforcement activity that I did not witness. There is always two sides to an enforcement event. The civil authorities encourage physical activity, such as walking and the use of parks that are not closed. You have to drive to get to these places. The arrest of these motorcyclists is selective enforcement as there are literally hundreds of folks who are moving about in their vehicles, pursuing the exceptions to the quarantine or not, and it would be exceedingly unwise for an officer to follow a vehicle containing family members to their stopping point, to ascertain their intentions. Millions of Americans are being crushed economically, placing them in the dark void between necessity and risk. Our civil authorities cannot win as they attempt to regulate personal freedom. Damned if they do or do not. As a police commander, I would strongly suggest that my officers solve the problem, but do so without an arrest except in the most egregious of circumstances. Easy to say from the comforts of my office with a steaming cup of coffee.
We are entering the civil disobedience phase of the Pandemillennial era. Thoreau, the great philosopher and advocate for civil disobedience espoused the theory that Civil Disobedience was not merely a right but a duty. The very essence of Civil Disobedience is the need to prioritize one’s conscious over the dictates of law, rule or order. Thoreau believed that disobedience is justified if it produces a positive change.
Easter is upon us. Pray the Master provides wisdom to our leaders as they navigate these deep, rough waters ahead. Pray for the “enforcers” who are truly in a damnable situation as they attempt to mitigate the word “Draconian”. Please also offer a prayer for those who we have lost to this horrible malady. Together, one way or another, we will prevail!