“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The Bill of Rights, Third Article
I am concerned.
I am not denying that people are dead and some are dying. I am not denying that there is a sickness out there.
But I am concerned nonetheless.
As American Citizens we are guaranteed certain “freedoms.”
The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The right to bear arms.
The right to free speech, and freedom of the press.
We are also allowed the right to peacefully assemble.
And the right to practice our religion.
Many of us appreciate and would, under normal circumstances, strongly defend these freedoms.
These aren’t normal circumstances.
We have been told that due to the danger this sickness possesses to the weakest and frailest among us we must be willing to sacrifice certain rights for “a time.” We shall not peacefully assemble. We shall not travel. For many this has meant we shall not work. Which unfortunately can turn into we shall not see life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because bills are piling up, depression is setting in, and loneliness is taking its toll.
And we agreed to all this because our government told us it was for the best. There’s an enemy out there and the best way to fight it is by staying home, staying alone. Do your part!
But what if they are wrong?
What if there is a greater danger than merely dying?
What if the best way to fight an enemy is not by removing freedoms but making wise decisions in the midst of safe-guarding those freedoms? Much of what has been removed from us as a nation are some of the best parts of being alive. Community, relationships, celebrations, and interests. People are afraid to leave their houses and go outside! Is that healthy? Neighbors are being told to snitch so they’re afraid to trust each other. Is that a good way to build a community? What if we’re slowly destroying what we’ve worked so hard to build?
I am reading more and more comments from people who wonder what this means moving forward for our country. Every time a sickness comes will we go into “lockdown”? Every time we’re afraid of what could happen, will we be forced to stop our lives and give up our rights? Will we allow ourselves less and less freedom because something bad may happen? The number of people claiming unemployment help has jumped, understandably so. Apparently, so has the number of suicides.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the creativity, courage, and compassion of people. I love seeing the Church realize it’s more than just a building and can happen anywhere and anytime. But how are we safeguarding these freedoms to make sure 20 years from now we are still able to meet together? How are we making sure this won’t happen every time someone decides the risk is high enough? What if one day the risk becomes believers meeting together? What if one day the risk only happens on Sundays? What if one day the risk becomes the Church? What if the Church meeting together never becomes essential?
Don’t think that cannot or will not happen.
I honestly thought a nation-wide lockdown “could not happen!” I argued vehemently against people who said it was coming. “No way, they can’t do that to a whole country! How will people function and live? How can they legally do that anyways? That’s ridiculous!”
But guess what, I was wrong.
The threat was deemed high enough. The risk was worth the removal of a few key freedoms. After all, it was only for a “short time” while we “came together” as a nation to protect some.
How often are we acknowledging that thousands and even millions already died to protect these freedoms? To give us these rights. Should we be so quick to let them go? Should we be so easily led by those who claim these freedoms are a danger to society and the health of our nation?
I understand many are afraid and content to stay home, stay safe, and stay quarantined. That is completely their right and I applaud them for making a difficult choice. My last two living grandparents are in their 90s. I love them and miss them. I have chosen to not visit them for the past several weeks and I will continue to not visit them until this is over. I have no desire to see them sick or dying. But this is my decision. And they have the right to tell me not to come, and I would honor their decision.
But somewhere along the way we lost the right to make that decision. I no longer have the right to choose to visit or not visit my grandparents, and they no longer have the right to say yay or nay to my visit. The government has decreed for both of us.
I understand this took us all by surprise. The news is telling us this is deadly; the government is in agreement, and we are being good citizens and, for the most part, obeying.
But what about the next time?