It’s Time to Replace Fear with The Golden Rule
What a week.
How is everyone holding up?
I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind the last few days and that applies to each of us regardless of which charts or statistics or projections we choose to believe, and regardless of how the measures taken by governments—local, state, and federal—are affecting us.
I’m seeing something that I find concerning and I suspect that others may be keying into it as well: people are consumed with fear and it’s changing the way they think and reason and interact with others.
Somehow, in the space of just a few weeks, many people have gone from relatively respectful of the choices that others make in regards to how they live their lives and the choices they make for their families, to clogging police call lines with reports of neighbors not practicing the right kind of “social distancing.”
We are seeing a break-down in community—neighbor suddenly lashing out at neighbor—because the standards set for their children during this stay-at-home period differ from family to family. Once friendly relationships are breaking down over something as once totally inconsequential as which children are allowed to go outside and which are required to stay in the house.
People who a month ago would have balked at the idea that government has the right to shut down private businesses, or to demand that companies produce a certain product, or to go door-to-door in search of people who are traveling between states without “good reason” are now the loudest voices in support of the “by any means necessary” government mandated “protection” from COVID-19.
What has happened?
A chilling statement that I have seen repeated across different platforms and forums when someone questions the draconian measures being taken to enforce government recommendations is, “Well, if they would just obey then these measures wouldn’t be necessary.
That sentence sends an actual chill up my spine. I’m willing to bet you’ve seen it, and felt a similar shudder at its implications. After all—there is a long and bloody history of “just following orders” and “that wouldn’t have happened if they had just obeyed”.
The governments of the world have mobilized against an unseen enemy and just like any mobilization of government against any enemy, there is a high probability of unintended consequences and accidental fatalities.
Whether the measures we are seeing are truly being taken in an earnest effort to protect and defend our society from a rapidly spreading illness, or whether the disease is being exploited by some for other purposes—I suspect a good bit of both—the consequence is already a major limiting of civil liberties and individual rights on a global scale. We know that governments tend to become authoritarian—we even have a children’s book about it!
F.A. Hayek told us that, “Emergencies have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.” We know Hayek was right—we’ve seen it before. We know that fear is a powerful weapon often employed by government to divide us and to usurp our liberties. I wrote a book about that, too.
I had hoped that the lessons we’ve learned in the nearly two decades since 9/11 would have been applied to the next crisis situation, but it seems that many are slow to remember, or simply don’t care, when they have been made to fear for the very lives of themselves and their loved ones.
I saw a post the other day that said something like, “I fear that the economic and societal fatality rate will end up being far greater than that of the actual virus,” and it’s worth pondering. The damage being done to businesses, relationships, and communities is on track to cause a secondary tidal wave of damage that will take a very long time to recover from. For some, there won’t be any recovery.
There are a lot of things that we can’t control right now. We can’t control the ever-changing daily projections of tens of thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of deaths. We may be unable to control the police presence in our communities and the forcible closure of essential-to-us businesses and the threats of violence against us if we disobey state mandated orders. Some can’t send their kids to school to be with their friends. We can’t meet up at the museum or the park with our homeschool co-op.
But we can always control our own minds.
And we can always control our own actions.
We can always choose not to let fear control and change us. We can be thoughtful and calm, despite our concerns.
What the world needs most right now is a heavy dose of the Golden Rule exercised in all of our interactions with one another.
Everyone is suffering in seen or unseen ways. Everyone has different needs that aren’t being met, and everyone is feeling the heavy hand of government pushing on them from one or many directions. Everyone has valid reasons to be afraid.
The last thing any of us needs is to be turning on one another, calling the police on one another, being unkind of hurtful toward one another, or judging one another.
Never have I been more convicted in the belief that every person you see is fighting a battle that you know nothing about—that every single person is doing the best that they can to protect and provide for themselves and those they love. Never has the right of the individual to act in their own best interest been more important.
My hope is that the fear and suspicion and judgements that have begun to rear their ugly heads within neighborhoods and communities will be recognized for what they are and replaced by an extra measure of love and a renewed commitment to uplift and respect and defend one another—even those with whom we may find ourselves fundamentally at odds.
This is the time to prove the rightness of the beliefs we claim to hold—to be truly excellent to one another. 😉