As I read about statewide orders to stay at home in many U.S. states and extensive National Guard presence in Baltimore, Maryland due to the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, I am scared for our country’s future.
We are in precarious and “interesting times,” like the Chinese curse (“May you live in interesting times”). Precarious because a dictator could do an emergency-based power grab and pressure officials to hand over astonishingly draconian powers that sweep away our freedoms and way of life in weeks.
What power will government wield when people are prohibited from associating? We are more comfortable sharing what bothers us and things we’re not sure of when we are together. We create a sort of energy when we gather. Secrets can be kept when voiced aloud versus exchanged online.
We are afraid, and hearing a lot of wrong or false things, often purposely spread (Chinese Communist Party, The New York Times). But we must keep our attention firmly on the rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution.
We must return to exercising all our rights as soon as possible.
We can do this by demanding short deadlines on all restrictions, renewable only with transparent deliberation each time.
While we wait, hope, and pray, please READ books about what happens when people give up their rights and forget their past. Try
- Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
These are particularly apt and prescient in current times. Ayn Rand escaped the USSR and her stories come from a clear perspective of lived experience. George Orwell observed how Britain was handling domestic issues during World War II, and he projected worse developments if his country continued on that path. From the Forward by Thomas Pynchon for the centennial edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four:
“One could certainly argue that Churchill’s war cabinet had behaved no differently than a fascist regime, censoring news, controlling wages and prices, restricting travel, subordinating civil liberties to self-defined wartime necessity.”
LEARN about countries in which absolute power mowed down millions of their own people:
Take this time to become educated citizens who earn freedom. We don’t deserve and cannot expect to keep it otherwise, warned United States President and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”– Thomas Jefferson
I am rereading Nineteen Eighty-Four and finished George Orwell’s startling essay “Politics and the English Language.” I found it at the end of What Orwell Didn’t Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics, edited by Andras Szanto.
What will you read? Please share.
Iannetta, Jessica. “National Guard Arrives in Baltimore to Support Coronavirus Relief.” Baltimore Business Journal. https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/03/20/national-guard-arrives-in-baltimore-to-support.html.
Melendez, Pilar. “This Is What a Coronavirus Lockdown Means in Each State.” The Daily Beast. 24 March 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/this-is-what-a-coronavirus-covid-19-lockdown-means-in-new-york-california-washington-and-other-states.
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four: a Novel. Penguin Group, 2003.