Freedom Is Never Free, Even for Us Today
Freedom is never free, or so we have been told many times over the years. I certainly heard it many times growing up. Often, it was in the context of remembering our fallen soldiers who fought to save us from tyranny. This we should always do, because it is a terrible price to pay and we who have not paid it have enjoyed the benefits.
Maybe saying that freedom is never free is too much of a cliché. What relevance does it have for us now? Well, being free is hard and costly. Anyone who has fought to preserve it, or harder still, escape tyranny knows this quite well. The past year of COVID-19 and the attendant crackdowns on freedom provide some perspective as to the costs of being free. COVID-19 is an enemy that is literally invisible to the human eye - that virus is too small for us to see. It can cause respiratory illness that is quite unpleasant, as I know from personal experience. It kills some of its victims. Viruses and respiratory illnesses are an inevitable part of life in this fallen world. If we are going to live, and especially if we are going to live freely, we must take risks. Freedom is not unbridled licentiousness with a complete lack of consequences. Living freely means taking risks to our health and even our lives, and being accountable for our actions.
Shutting down economies and destroying livelihoods in the name of stopping a pandemic may seem appealing because it takes the responsibility away from the individuals and places it on the government which makes the rules. Political leaders can then blame this invisible enemy for the decisions they make themselves. Worsening this nightmare is the empirical observation that shutdowns did not stop the pandemic, which continued to rage.
If you want to wear a mask, that ought to be your prerogative. If you want to get a vaccine, that ought to be your prerogative. When the government says you must wear a mask and you can only take it off if you get the vaccine, and even then you must still keep it on sometimes, your choice is suddenly different. You still have a choice, but it is not to protect your health or jeopardize it; your choice is now between obeying the rule or defying it. The coercive power of the state may or may not be invoked against you, but it can be. Instead of reacting (or not) to an invisible, but very real virus, you are reacting to a coercive government. This is not freedom. You may like it (I don't), but it is not freedom.
As any reader should be able to tell, I do not approve of these COVID-19 shutdowns. Fortunately they are coming to an end, or so I hope. What I want readers to understand, especially any reader in the United States of America, is that if we are going to live free, we are all going to take risks and bear costs, every one of us and every day. It is hard to be free because it means taking responsibility. I think it is worth it. I thank the soldiers who perished to preserve us from tyranny throughout the terrible twentieth century. Now it is time to honor them by not sacrificing our freedom for the sake of avoiding responsibility for our own lives. Freedom is worth it.