The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how humanity rallies together in times of suffering, but it has also highlighted awful greed, crass opportunism, and the selfish human heart. Freedom is not another word for selfishness and greed. But from guns to the pandemic, we’re treating it that way.
The freedoms we enjoy in the United States are designed to prevent the tyranny of authoritarianism. But in order to guarantee the safety and security of the general population and avoid chaos, there are necessary restrictions on those freedoms, and governments work to achieve the proper balance. Millions are dying unnecessarily from COVID because of selfishness, greed, and a perverse misunderstanding of human freedom.
Sadly, there is a deep misinterpretation, especially among the right, of individual liberty. Those who refuse to wear masks or socially distance often argue that requirements to do so infringe on their freedom. But one person’s freedom is another person’s “unfreedom.” If their refusal to wear a mask or get vaccinated results in others getting COVID-19, their behavior is denying others the more fundamental right to life itself.
Any ordered society entails restrictions. But while prohibitions against killing, stealing, and so on restrict an individual’s freedom, we all understand that society could not function without them. In our post-COVID world, we might interpret the Ten Commandments to include: “Thou shall not kill, including by spreading infectious diseases when thou can avoid doing so.”