A time to choose: Fear or Freedom?

April 26, 2020

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the ships will sail again all over the world
Then we’ll have time for things like wedding rings and free hearts will sing
When the lights go on again all over the world

(Songwriters: Bennie Benjamin / Sol Marcus / Eddie Seiler)

Famed Big Band leader and renowned baritone singer Vaughn Manroe took that song to the top of the charts in 1943. With England, especially London, under strict blackout rules the song gave hope to all that the war would end and life would indeed return to normal.

Three quarters of a century later, hundreds of millions of souls in countries the world over now find themselves locked in battle in an entirely different kind of war. A war against a rogue virus that has shut out the lights of commerce from Hoboken to Hamburg, London to Los Angeles and thousands of cafe’s and shops in places not even known.

One moment shops are opening, customers are buying and families are laughing. The next, Poland is invaded, Pearl Harbor is attacked and life within hours is forever changed.

Less than four months ago, COVID 19 wasn’t even a term. Wuhan Virus was floating around in a few papers and news casts but it was a China issue. It was “over there”.

But then the result of the Chinese Communist Government’s hiding its truth from the world and the World Health Organization’s initial decision to trust said government began to show itself outside China’s borders. Though American President Donald Trump had issued a ban on entry to any foreign national coming from China beginning on February 2nd it was already too late. The virus was already well on its way.

Mocked as being a racist, xenophobe action at the time by the likes of the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and even former Vice President Joe Biden, it has since been proven critical. Yet for the next six weeks the American public would watch as not just the President himself, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Feb 24), New York Mayor Bill De Blasio (March 3), his Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot (March 4), Bernie Sanders and even the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci (March 9th) and a litany of cable talking heads and news outlets all playing down the risk.

For weeks, Americans were in limbo and then all hell broke loose and life as we know it will never be the same. The spring of 2020 will be as forever etched in Americans alive today as the spring of ’42 was to the Greatest Generation and the spring of ’40 was to the Londoner’s of their time.

Yes, had China and WHO been honest with the world in the beginning this horror could have been contained within the borders that birthed it. But as much as we’d like, we cannot undo what is already done.

When it became clear that additional measures would be needed to protect the most vulnerable in our society (the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) Americans were amazingly cooperative. We all know at least one person close to us that’s vulnerable and all the Chinese propaganda aside, we Americans are a compassionate and generous people.

So here we are. America, and the economy that fuels her is now into its second month of self-imposed shutdown. And a society that is beginning to show the strains from such.

Yet this status quo cannot continue forever. There is another side to the covid crisis and that side is the millions of American who either own a small business or work in one.

Senator Rand Paul (R Kentucky) put it best this week when he noted that: “No amount of bailout dollars will stimulate an economy that is being strangled by quarantine,”….“It is not a lack of money that plagues us but a lack of commerce.”

The key is how do we put the truth of Paul’s statement into an action while in the middle of a crisis with so many uncertainties? The same way we got into this. One city, one county, one state at a time; A reverse shut-down. Those areas most remote and least affected start first and one day, one test at a time, economic vitality returns.

It won’t be easy and there’s no guaranteed path forward. But America has never been a cowering nation and God willing, never will be. No matter how daunting, every generation before us has met their challenge and so too shall we.

Rest assured, those lights all over the world WILL go on again. And if that world has but an ounce of common sense left after all this, it will never again trust the switch to the communists in Beijing.

PUBLISHER NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the April 26, 2020 print editino of the Joplin Globe

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