Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Who's Afraid of Covid-19?


Please be honest: Are you still afraid of Covid-19?

Like you, I heard the horror stories back in March, and saw the footage from China, ostensibly of dead bodies in the streets, portending what was coming for us.

Looking at those images now, they seem peculiar, almost staged. In any case, they are nowhere near what we experienced anywhere in the West.

Yet here we are, under a heavier hand of restrictions and rules than was in place back then.

The common shorthand is to say governments like to keep us in a state of fear. As I look around, I see plenty of quarrelling, accusations and power-grabs, but precious little fear.

So I ask again – are you scared of Covid-19?

I am not; at least, no moreso than I am of any other ailment, contagious or otherwise, that has the power to do me in. Surveying my family history, I am considerably more leery of heart disease and cancer than of the Coronavirus.

What most definitely does scare me is the creeping loss of our freedom, with the unblinking acquiescence of much of the population.

As I type, sub-national governments of every party across North America are discussing in public and private whether and how they can cancel Halloween. Having shut down Easter and summer and ruined school, Halloween is up next on the steady march that will erase Christmas and New Year’s, too.

This is madness. Even the most lockstep Faucist does not believe trick-or-treating children are at risk from Covid-19. The numbers simply are not there, and that is not in dispute.

So why cancel Halloween? Is it because children going from house to house may infect older or vulnerable people? In what world would the answer be anything but to keep those people away from the door?

The answer is: in this world; in a world where hollow leaders, elected and unelected, who have nothing else within them and can think of no other course but to increase their power over other people, hold the reins.

Covid-19 has given them their chance; it has revealed what was always there.

These are people who cannot countenance a world in which things are neither mandatory nor forbidden, simply permitted.

As one clever fellow quipped on the Internet: At this point, I would feel safer if the Coronavirus held a press conference telling us how it is going to protect us from the government.

In formerly free nations, including my native and well-behaved Canada, internment camps are being erected for infected or uncooperative citizens. In England and Australia, police stake out homes, at times entering by force to arrest people not only for quarantine violations, but for speaking out against government policy. 

If your chief fear is still a disease with a recovery rate north of 99 percent, please allow me to suggest you alter your gaze. 

But I do not believe that is what you fear most. Even if, against type, you are an ardent masker who has read this far, my suspicion is that you are doing what you feel you should, what you are now used to and, more than disease itself, you fear doing what you should not. 

We are creatures of habit, and what we do today becomes rote by tomorrow. As tomorrow and tomorrow creeps to the last syllable of recorded time, how often do we stop and ask ourselves why we are doing the things we do?

Oftentimes, people assert that you would feel differently if you or someone you knew were affected by the disease. As it happens, I have at least one friend whose death was attributed to Covid-19. Things being as they are, however, I do not believe the death report for a hot minute. Further, that friend, while a sweet person, was rather old and distanced from my daily life. 

Perhaps it is the same with you. Some cousin or acquaintance or schoolmate you'd forgotten has battled or succumbed to Covid-19. Return to those images from China in the early days. We have not seen bodies in the streets, and most of us must stretch for the disease to touch us at all. 

So again, why are we doing this? What do you truly fear?

At the administrative heights, those commanding masks and restrictions are not necessarily evil people. But often they are weak, and would not know how to stop even if they wanted to.

Conscious evil does exist and when, say, Bill Gates blithely remarks that reducing human population growth is a good thing, in a tone that suggests every good person agrees, the mask slips, so to speak. 

Indeed, when I look at the faces of Bill and Melinda Gates, I see demonic confusion; in George Soros, I see Satanic calculation. 

But these are billionaires and world-beaters, so high above the lives of regular people they may as well be Greek gods.

It is different for your grocery store mask-shamer. She is not a member of the Tri-Lateral Commission, or the Bilderbergs, or even the Stone Cutters. She is a regular person, going about her day, but in thrall to the luxurious human appetite for control.

It is not my intention to insult her, or drive us further apart than we already are. I keep the prayer of the Pharisee much in mind: While the desire for control over other people is not my primary fault, I have plenty of others (Google keeps a copious but incomplete list). 

Natural Liberty, as espoused by Adam Smith, posits that if you do as you please and I do the same, so long as we do not infringe upon each other, all will be well (I paraphrase).

The insidiousness of control-addicts is to torture and pervert the logic of this principle such that there is no action of yours that does not infringe upon them, while excusing any actions of theirs that pester you. 

For example, if you use a plastic straw, you are destroying the planet for their children; if you do not wear a mask, you are killing grandma and are impolite besides. 

In reverse, please allow a personal anecdote. We had neighbors who installed a hellish, halogen spotlight on the side of their home, shining into every window of ours. Worse, it was on an erratic sensor, so its beam, which could pierce the noon sun, would strike us without warning at all hours. For readers of a certain vintage, think Kramer and the Kenny Rogers sign. 

After weeks of polite requests that they remedy the situation, the wife of the couple shrieked at us that they had CHILDREN and had to keep them safe.

There was zero logic to the claim that they had to illuminate the interior of our home to protect their teenagers on a 10-foot space of driveway in a neighborhood that makes Mayberry look like Mogadishu.

But it shows how far people will extend their own liberty at your expense, while curtailing yours (and, not for nothing, that most would rather die roaring than apologize for a simple mistake). 

In the midst of all this, two things give me hope.

First, I am nowhere near the only person sounding this alarm. Many who are larger, louder, and more articulate than I are saying much the same.

I differ, in some cases, with their prescriptions; for example, I do not see how the cause of liberty is advanced by getting in an argument with the frightened, minimum-wage worker whose job it is to ensure I have a mask before entering a store.

But I am keeping a list of companies and politicians complicit in this rhubarb. If and when this is over, they will never receive my business or support again.

Second and perhaps most important, the momentum is entirely on our side, at least in terms of recruitment. While more and more people come to see restrictions as capricious and unnecessary, no freedom-minded person marches off to join the Karenwaffe.

We may yet be in the minority, but traffic is one-way.

As I look around and to the future, I do have fear, but I consider it an opportunity to show courage. On the advice of a splendid Welshman (as if there were any other kind), I will not go gentle into that good night.

Theo Caldwell just wanted to be left alone. Contact him at theo@theocaldwell.com