Opinion: How COVID is unmasking the tyrannical busybodies among us

The Mask Police have spawned a special holiday force: the Thanksgiving Police. 

I recently shared this thought on Twitter:

COVID continues to unmask the tyrannical busybodies among us, and the idea of people spending time with their loved ones during a national holiday is more than they can bear. America’s favorite governors are at it again. Maryland’s Larry Hogan announced the Maryland State Police will launch a “wide-scale, all-hands-on-deck compliance education and enforcement operation” that is set to commence this week just in time for the holidays. Fa la la la la, Maryland!

Not to be outdone, Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that “gathering with those outside your home will be banned unless everyone involved quarantines for two weeks and tests negative for the virus.” California Governor Gavin Newsom wants you to know it’s important to do as he says and avoid eating a Thanksgiving meal indoors with your family; do as he says, mind you, not as he does.  

Taking their cues from fussy, hypocritical politicians and our hysterical media, an alarming number of people continue to believe it is their duty to police others. My social media feeds are peppered with warnings. People are sharing charts and graphs about COVID’s incubation period as if this is new information, somehow different from the information with which we’ve been bombarded for nine months. I am perpetually reminded it is selfish to visit the elderly every day, but it is especially selfish to do so on Thanksgiving Day. I suppose COVID knows there’s a national holiday ahead in the same way it knows whether you’re seated at a restaurant table with friends or taking that dangerous walk from the door of the restaurant to the table that requires a mask.

If you take nothing else away from the dire warnings, know this: they know what is best for you. You need their guidance to navigate these unprecedented times. You need their guidance at all times, obviously, but especially during the holiday season. Your inclination is to be with family, to surround yourself with loved ones after this tumultuous year, but you must resist your inclination and heed the warnings of the social media scolds.

I am going to tell you something important. Sit down; it might shock you: People are free to make decisions with which you disagree.

Years and years of government encroachment into our lives coupled with our deteriorating education system have conditioned too many people to assume they are ill-equipped to make decisions for themselves and their families. They await government edicts to tell them how to handle even minor issues, and they insist others await the same guidance and then follow it without question.  

Too many people remind me of the automatons C.S. Lewis references in his excellent thoughts on choice and free will shared in The Case for Christianity. Lewis beautifully explains why God gives man free will:

God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

An incredibly important part of becoming a functioning,  well-adjusted adult is accepting that other people will make choices with which you disagree. They are free to do so just as you are free to make choices with which they disagree. Increasingly, too many in government do not welcome this mindset among the citizenry. The lies the government wants you to believe are alarming, and the list is growing. Many believe the lies, and they take to the Internet to implore their fellow citizens to buy into the lies. This was true before COVID; COVID has only compounded the problem.

Consider that the government cannot spend the money you earn more efficiently than you can; they do not know what is best for your child; they do not know the details of your health or the health of your family members; they do not know what the ideal Thanksgiving plan is for you and your family. They do not know you; moreover, they do not care about you. Yes, there are a handful of good and decent people in government, but even they do not personally know you, your kids, your parents, your financial woes, your health concerns, or your needs. They are in no position to tell you how to spend this or any holiday, and if they attempt to do so you should vote them out when you get the chance.  

Freedom implies choice. Freedom implies not compelling others to live as you live, to worship as you worship, to spend money as you spend money, to educate their children as you educate yours, to spend Thanksgiving as you spend Thanksgiving. Freedom absolutely means people will make unfortunate choices, but freedom is still the only way forward. The God of the universe looks at His own creation and knows they will falter; He knows they will not all choose Him, that some will make terrible choices,  but He also knows the only way forward is to allow them to be free.

Why would we be so bold as to assume a government composed of flawed men should operate with any foundational principle other than preserving and defending the freedoms of the people whom they serve? Freedom is the way forward, and a virus in no way changes this. I end with Lewis’s words:

‘ . . . free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.’  

Follow Anna Zeigler (@ajzeigler) on Twitter.

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