The year of fear

Jefferson Weaver
Jefferson Weaver

It’s been a year now since we allowed the politicians to take us hostage with a virus.

Don’t get me wrong – I do not doubt that COVID-19 is dangerous, even deadly for some folks. I am reasonably sure my wife and I had the Wuhan Flu before it was cool, in December and January when it was still just a mention on the evening news. We weren’t really 100 percent recovered when our state locked itself down and we sacrificed freedom for some vague form of security.

It’s been a year now – and where are we?

Our state has lost 11,500 lives that are attributed to COVID-19; more than 500,000 nationally are counted as COVID deaths. By comparison, whichever brand of flu the nation had in 2018 killed 391 people. Drunk drivers killed 10,511 the same year. More than 619,000 babies were killed in utero that year, but the state-sponsored murder of the unborn is a column for another day. I used 2018 simply because not all the numbers have been updated for 2019, much less 2020, because of – well, COVID.

Well, COVID. How I loathe those words.

That became the answer to everything. Why was the mail delayed, or a package sent to the wrong house? COVID. Why couldn’t you get a vehicle fixed? Well, COVID. Why did a child fail a class? COVID. Why was there no toilet paper, paper towels, alcohol, hand sanitizer, ammunition, canned goods? Well, COVID.

We adjusted. We handled. We complied. And what did it get us? It’s hard to say.

I have always taken the virus seriously, but I have refused and still refuse to be terrified. I don’t wear a mask everywhere, and never more than one. I associate with people outside my household. I wash my hands more than I did, and maintain several feet between myself and others most of the time. When I felt bad, I stayed home and away from others. I respect the concerns of those who are more sensitive to any kind of ailment. It frustrates me to do so much business by telephone, text and email that I used to do in person, but I adapted.

I was raised to respect other people’s concerns. If you want to wear a mask, go right ahead. If you want to get a vaccine, I’ll help you find a vaccination event, and if need be, I’ll give you a ride there. 

 But I am not descended from people who thrived on fear. I refused to live in fear. It just ain’t happening.

COVID has been and is still being used as an excuse to do what no foreign power has ever been able to do – destroy America. I was actually confident that we could emerge victorious from the 14-day lockdown, despite the fact I didn’t trust those who said we would “flatten the curve.”

Then came the additional lockdowns, the stay-at-home “guidelines” and executive orders issued by politicians who were either frightened by empowered functionaries (and some well-meaning public servants) or emboldened by their own power.

Now? I’m not so sure we’ll ever be strong again.

COVID is being used by those who benefit the most to manipulate elections and elections law; we will soon have universal mail-in balloting controlled by the federal government, something the founders rightfully feared. 

It’s been used as an excuse to add taxes and controls where people were already struggling but couldn’t be legally controlled. It’s been used to give bonuses to people who still had jobs but couldn’t work, as well as encouraging people to take unemployment even if they can work. And yes, I checked: I could make more money staying home on unemployment than I do working every day. 

Pandemania is leaving small business owners with the choices of being beholden to the government for a loan or watching their business dry up and die – unless they belong to a special interest group. In the case of the latter, it’s possible to have all your debt, COVID-related or not, erased, and have some extra cash on top of that. 

At least everyone can get a $1,400 check as an apology – while we saddle our grandchildren with billions of dollars for pet projects and money to overseas countries who hate America.

COVID was used as an excuse to batter down houses of worship – well, of some faiths, anyway – since church services are so dangerous, but big box stores are safe since everyone needs a new coffeemaker, 60-inch television or clothes made in the country that gave us the virus in the first case.

There was a lot of fear, a lot of foolishness, and a lot of flat-out falsehoods that were made true by the volume and tenor of the tellers.

 We adjusted. We handled. We complied.

And what did it get us? It’s hard to say.

The states and some countries that didn’t go into full bore lockdown have had varied results. On the other end of the spectrum, those which did employ downright frightening tactics (the irony of shooting people in the streets in Spain to save their lives is priceless) had just as varied results.

One thing it did get for us is a willingness to give up the freedoms that were earned by so much blood, sweat and tears, and to give up a lot of that freedom within a generation.

We have become a nation willing to call 911 on our neighbors for having company. I know of one local family that erected a privacy fence and forbade their son from talking over the fence to a child who had been his best friend. 

I heard about a member of a town board who threatened to fire one of the public safety officials in his town because the official refused to “create” an ordinance banning gatherings of more than three people, alternating days that stores could be open, and having the police actually arrest (not cite) violators.

We have become a nation accepting of increased rates of suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence and poor health because it’s necessary to protect everyone. It’s okay to vaccinate people, including pregnant women and the elderly, without reasonable testing of the vaccine. We are willing to accept science, but only some science, if that science comes from the sources which agree on whatever is fashionable this week.

We have become a nation that until lately was comfortable with allowing children and teenagers to basically lose a year of school. That’s despite the best efforts of many teachers thrust into becoming overnight experts in the field of remote learning, with little guidance or assistance from the bureaucrats and politicians who make decisions without having to worry about the ramifications thereof.

We have become a nation where social intercourse and debate have been replaced with social media, which can be taken away at the drop of a hat if someone says something that might be offensive to a single individual they have never met.

We have become a nation of nursing homes where those who survived the virus are doomed to spend their days talking on telephones and computers, and waving through windows at loved ones – if they even can.

We have become a nation of angry people enduring another pandemic, a plague of cabin fever. Bureaucrats wring their hands and threaten further “or elses” if COVID numbers rise at all. 

Gathering with others is the cardinal sin  – unless one is involved in a riot for the “right” reasons. Apparently one cannot catch COVID-19 if you’re breaking windows, burning cars, destroying private property and assaulting law enforcement officers.

Spring break, however, is a super spreader event, and every college student who ever thought of going to the beach must be a carrier of the virus.

We have allowed the politicization of this plague to the point that even a satirist like Mencken would shake his head, and an absurdist like Swift would throw his hands up in disbelief. We elected people who politicized the virus, then politicized the vaccine, criticized its creation and manufacture, then took credit for the work that they previously criticized – except in cases where there might be questions about distribution or efficacy, in which case it’s the other guy’s fault. 

We have become a nation that’s okay with being told we must sacrifice this, that or the other thing because of COVID, and to question one’s elected and self-appointed betters means one is a racist who wants to kill other people, especially those who are helpless. 

Yet we are okay with elected officials refusing lifesaving medical help from religious organizations because  of the fabled separation of church and state, and the help of the military was not allowed since it came from a president with a different letter behind his name. It’s funny how that changed when it came time to distribute the vaccine, and the military was the only organization with the skills and network to effectively do so.

And we have become content to allow those in charge to tell us what freedoms we can enjoy, when we can enjoy them, and with whom we can be free – or else.

A year ago, as I settled into comfortably working from home, with animals making their way to my home office and my bride making sure I had a good lunch every day, I was confident that we as Americans would come out of the pandemic stronger and smarter.

Now, as we ban cartoons but applaud sex acts at an awards show, as we are constantly reminded that having a largely untested vaccination may be required to travel or someday, enter a grocery store, as we are encouraged to avoid contact with anyone who doesn’t live in the same household, and promised to possibly be permitted to cook hot dogs in small gatherings on Independence Day if we behave – now, I am not so sure what to think.

I am actually thankful that Miss Rhonda and I don’t have any children. I’d hate to have the responsibility of teaching grandchildren, likely in secret, about what it was like when America was free. I’d hate to have them ask what happened.  How could we allow such a wonderful thing as the United States of America become a gelded third-world country in debt to a communist dictatorship and ruled by a new class of socialist royalty?

The only answer I would be able to provide, sadly would be, “Well – COVID.”

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About Jefferson Weaver 1877 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@ColumbusCountyNews.com.