Monday, July 6, 2020

Can We be Allowed to be Adults, Please? - By Shawn Antoine

We live in unprecedented times. How often have you heard that phrase recently in the media or from the politicians? So often, it’s become cliché. The problem is the media and the politicians have it all wrong. We aren’t living in unprecedented times because of the COVID-19 outbreak or even because of the rioting following the death of George Floyd. We live in unprecedented times because the United States of America has never seen a time in its history where the people’s basic rights and liberties have been taken from them so quickly and on a such a large scale without their consent or due process. The really scary part? We allowed it all to happen and to a large extent asked for it.
A large majority of the media is gleefully scaring the hell out of everyone with a daily death count and we eat it up. Our states’ Governors have decided that executive orders allow them to become little kings, in some cases little tyrants, in their respective states making law by fiat without the legislature’s consent.  Worse, the legislatures have decided that is just fine with them and we complied without any resistance. There seems to be no limit to the executive powers that governors can take for themselves. All of this is done in the name of “protecting” us from a virus.
We complied, like good little children doing what we were are told. Most of us wanted to do our part to protect ourselves, our families and others from this deadly outbreak. Most Americans are compassionate and care for their fellow human beings. So, we stopped living our lives. We sheltered at home. We allowed the Government to shut down the economy and waited. We waited to see what would happen, most of us hoping this would blow over like a bad storm and we could emerge after it passed and pick up the pieces of our lives. The problem is that this is not a storm. It’s a virus; a virus doesn’t blow over. It sticks around like an annoying unwelcome guest. When you come out it attacks again and again, never going away unless we kill it.
So, here we are, months into this pandemic with no end in sight. No idea when, or if, there will be an inoculation or a viable treatment that cures the virus. The media is still gleefully scaring the hell out of everyone even suggesting this is all a “new normal” and the Governors are retreating on allowing us to live our lives again by issuing new executive orders. So, the time has come to ask, can we be allowed to be adults please?
What is an adult in this context? An adult is not just a human who has reached a certain level of physical growth. An adult is someone who has done that and gained the necessary intelligence to make informed mature decisions about his or her life. There are many examples of children running around in adult sized bodies, we all know them and, in most cases, don’t like them very much.
Life is risk. No one makes it out of this thing alive. We take on risk doing benign, basic things daily. It’s time that the politicians recognize, and the media accepts that the adults in our country have the right to make decisions about risks they are willing to take as it pertains to COVID-19. This isn’t academic. The media and politicians focus exclusively on the lives that have been destroyed by the mortality rate of the virus, which is tragic. However, they ignore the greater and much larger destruction of lives it has caused for those who remain, many who haven’t even gotten sick. Millions upon millions of job losses. Businesses shuttered and lost, millions of children displaced from school and the parents who had to suddenly become teachers and the stress and despair that comes with it all.
This virus isn’t going anywhere; that’s a simple fact. It’s time that we start learning to live with it like we learn to manage the risk, as with so many other things in our lives. First thing that needs to happen is that we need to get some real facts about the virus so we can make informed decisions. We also need to stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated and led like children by the media and the politicians. We need to stop living in a fantasy world where we think it’s possible for most of the public to stay at home indefinitely and wear a mask for the rest of our lives when we venture out. This cannot continue and it shouldn’t continue.
I don’t want to live in this world. I want to go to the movies, attend concerts and football games. I want to go to a bar with my friends. I want to go to church and not have more than half the pews roped off. I want to live my life again, fully. I think that most people do and frankly we have a right to demand that we get our lives back. Not in a “new normal” but in the old normal.
The good news is that this is possible. The early fears about the virus have been steadily proven to be wrong. An overwhelming majority of people who get the virus recover. The mortality rate has been steadily going down as more testing has been conducted and now sits at lower than 1% which is not any worse than other seasonal diseases we’ve already dealt with. The truly vulnerable can take precautions, they can stay at home they can wear a mask, they can avoid large gatherings. The one thing they shouldn’t have the right to do is expect the rest of the world to stop living in a vain attempt to protect them. Even if we did, they aren’t going to be protected. Viruses are designed to kill us, it’s nature’s way of taking out the alpha predator. It’s scary, but true. We used to understand this and accept the risk associated with it.
We can go back to our lives, we can open the country and the world, the real question is, are we willing to be adults and stop cowering in our homes hoping in vain that we can weather a storm that’s not going away anytime soon. We can do all this, but we need to be allowed to be adults so that we can.