This is what Morgan Freeman’s character says in Shawshank Redemption, and it couldn’t apply more to the way we’re approaching this pandemic.
America was founded on taking risks. Starting with the Founders, who gave up their lives, their savings, friends, and comfort, this country has always been about fearlessly forging ahead and creating. And building.
The westward expansion was a journey into the unknown for many. But it was about the pursuit of a new life. A better life. And people were willing to risk their lives to do it.
The coronavirus is here, and America has decided to cower in their homes.
I don’t fault taking a moment to learn more about what it is, how it works, and what it’s capable of doing to us. But we largely know this now.
We know that there are some more at risk than others: People over 65, with pre-existing conditions, diabetes, risk for heart disease, etc.
But that doesn’t mean we have to shut down everything to protect them. We can take intelligent, targeted precautions with those people while opening the economy for the rest.
Life is to be lived. If we’re all cowering in fear in our houses, are we really living?
Think of the effects this is having on many seniors. Yes, we know they’re a high risk group. But consider the alternative.
Many seniors are no longer working, so they don’t get the socialization that comes from being in the workforce. And if they have a harder time getting around, they don’t get out much to speak with people at stores or restaurants. This makes their kids and grandkids that much more important.
It’s not a stretch to say seeing their kids and grandkids are some of the best of their remaining moments in this life. In fact, some live for those visits.
If we’re keeping our seniors locked up, what kind of life are they living. If you remove people’s sources of happiness, what kind of life is left?
Americans have a baked-in, cultural desire to explore and experience. This lockdown runs completely counter to it.
Consider the alternative. If we were all going on about our business, what would be the effect? We’d definitely be spreading the virus faster, and to more people. I think there’s little doubt about that.
But once we all come out of lockdown, isn’t that going to happen, anyway? By staying inside, we’re just delaying the inevitable. And if we spread it, people will start getting it and recuperating from it. This will build the antibodies necessary to prevent the spread.
The faster our citizens build immunity, the faster we reduce the threat.
I was talking to a friend from Kosovo. He was talking about how when he lived there, part of the government’s approach to ethnic cleansing was to have their police force pick young men to shoot and kill on regular nights out. They’d then place a gun in the hand of the dead and say it was self defense.
The men in the city new this was a possibility, and so they had a decision to make: stay in and guarantee safety, or go out, live life, and take a chance. He chose to go out, be careful, stay alert, and take a chance.
We only get one life, and it’s too precious to waste. Right now, we can either take our chances with the virus or stay inside in isolation, reliant on the government.
I think the choice is obvious. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
You can have this pandemic. I’m not participating.